Sage Northcutt and Shinya Aoki were due to fight in 2021. The American withdrew from that fight and it seems the promotion has been trying to rebook it ever since.
Aoki ended up facing Eduard Folayang instead of Northcutt and submitted him in the opening round. The Japanese veteran has not won a fight since then suffering back to back losses in both MMA and submission grappling.
Northcutt is coming off his first ONE Championship win and made it clear he still wants to fight Aoki,
“We had it in the works before I had my last fight with Ahmed. We had it set and he said he still wants it. I think we should do it.”
There is bad blood between the two men after Aoki told Northcutt to ‘eat shit’ on Twitter after the American had politely congratulated him on his win over Folayang:
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There was some suggestion that Northcutt is reluctant to travel to Asia, having suffered a brutal stoppage loss to Cosmo Alexandre in Singapore in 2019.
His win over Mujtaba was at ONE Fight Night 10 in Denver. The promotion will surely be back in the US in 2024 and it sounds like Northcutt is targeting that card for his return,
“That (Shinya Aoki) is a big fight. I’m excited for that one. Hopefully, we get that here soon.”
While the fight has not been announced Northcutt sounds confident that it will happen,
“Right now, I’m focused on fighting Shinya. Having your focus on what’s in front of you is the most important thing.”
He's BACK! "Super" Sage Northcutt 🇺🇸 submits Ahmed Mujtaba with a heel hook in 39 SECONDS! ⚡ @sagenorthcutt
Tune in to Prime Video NOW to catch the rest of ONE Fight Night 10!
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) May 6, 2023
Aoki is 40 and if the fight does materialize in early 2024 it will be three years since the Japanese veteran last enjoyed victory. Rivals might feel it is a good time to fight the former ONE Championship, Dream and WAMMA lightweight champion but Northcutt does not concur,
“He’s the former champion. He’s nobody to look over.”
Northcutt’s win over Mujtaba was his first in nearly five years. He knows what it feels like to suffer a slump in form although the circumstances were somewhat different, with the American sidelined by injury and illness.
It doesn’t sound like anything has been signed but Northcutt made it clear that Aoki is very much on his mind,
“I’ve been really focused on Shinya since after my last fight. Post-fight when we talked with all the media, it got brought up by someone out there saying, ‘How about you and Shinya?’ And it got brought up that it might possibly be the next thing. So since then, I’ve just been thinking about that.”