Sage Northcutt made a successful return to action at ONE Fight Night 10 following a four year hiatus. The American needed just 39 seconds to see off Pakistan’s Ahmed Mujitaba as he finally laid to a rest a torrid spell that’s been plagued by injury.

Northcutt signed for ONE from the UFC in 2018 but endured an horrific debut when his orbital bone was crushed in a first-round knockout loss to Cosmo Alexandre. The 27 year old’s comeback trail saw several false dawns including a proposed fight with Shinya Aoki that was cancelled due to more health issues.

With his well-being finally sorted, Northcutt is keen to reignite his rivalry with Aoki,

“I did have a fight set up with Shinya Aoki and I think that’d be a super exciting one,” explained Northcutt during the post-fight press conference.

Big strides

Aoki is one of the most successful submission specialists in the history of the sport. But Northcutt feels he has made big strides in this area,

“Looking from my finish just now,  you can see my grappling has improved a lot. He’s a great grappler, I think that’d be a really exciting match.

ONE Championship founder, Chatri Sityodtong agreed that it’s the right match-up for Northcutt,

“I think that would be a fantastic fight so I want to make that fight. I just gotta talk to Shinya. It’d be great. Shinya vs Sage, potentially in Japan. It’ll blow up Japan.”


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Working hard

Northcutt is based at Team Alpha Male and says he has been working hard on his grappling during the time he has been away from the cage,

“It was definitely pretty fast (but) I’ve been working my grappling though a lot, so over the last few years I’ve been really honing in on it and working it a ton. I’m really excited I got to win out there, get a submission and I got to show some of that grappling.”

Despite being a surprising end to the fight, Northcutt has now secured four of his 12 pro victories by submission. Those numbers pale into insignificance when compared with Aoki’s thought, the Japanese legend has 30 submission wins.

Chatri has already made it clear he wants to match Takeru with Rodtang in Tokyo, potentially at the Saitama Super Arena. It looks like Northcutt could find himself facing Aoki on that card.