Sage Northcutt has been a bit of a controversial character since his arrival in the UFC at the ripe age of 18. The Texas native came up into the league via Dana White’s Looking For A Fight reality show and received the kind of promotional push most fighters can only dream of … before ever accomplishing much in the Octagon at all. As you’d expect from even the most talented of youths his age, his inexperience in the cage resulted in middling results … namely a 3-2 record as he struggled to juggle university and fighting.
Last year Northcutt put his education on hold to focus on fighting and returned after a year off to a win. His home state fight at UFC Austin was against Thibault Gouti (1-3 UFC), which is about as easy a fight as you’re going to get at this level. But unfortunately for the UFC he still struggled to win, getting rocked in rounds one and two by Gouti on the feet, only to be given a bit of a gift of a decision 29-28 on all three judges’ scorecards.
Gouti’s fatal flaw was not following up when he had Sage hurt. In the first, he nearly knocked Northcutt out but instead of swinging he went for a front choke. Northcutt recovered and went on to potentially win the round (and fight) off volume strikes. It was a similar situation in the second, with Sage peppering Gouti with an endless supply of single shots, Gouti nearly taking his head off once, and then Gouti pressing Sage against the cage instead of separating and continuing to strike.
Fans watching were not impressed with what they saw was a ridiculous gift of a decision for Sage.