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Sage Northcutt Undaunted by Shinya Aoki’s Jiu-Jitsu: ‘It’s More Than Just a Grappling Match’


Sage Northcutt making an entrance
Sage Northcutt to face Shinya Aoki at ONE 165

Sage Northcutt, the dynamic fighter who recently returned to the ONE Championship scene with an impressive heel-hook submission win, is gearing up for a long-anticipated clash against Shinya Aoki. In an exclusive interview with MMA Fighting, Northcutt shared insights into his preparation and mindset leading up to this pivotal matchup, scheduled for ONE 165 on Jan. 28.


Northcutt's journey back to the cage has been marked by challenges, including a bout cancellation due to COVID. Reflecting on his victorious comeback, he expressed the joy of returning to action after nearly four years, emphasizing the thrill of showcasing his skill set and exciting the crowd.


Now set to face Shinya Aoki, a legend with 60 pro fights and a reputation for formidable grappling, Northcutt acknowledges the significance of this opportunity. In anticipation of the clash, he emphasizes, 


"This is the biggest fight yet. Something I’m looking forward to.”


While Aoki's grappling prowess is well-documented, Northcutt stresses that this bout transcends a mere grappling match. He reminds everyone that ONE Championship's unique ruleset allows for a diverse range of strikes, including elbows and knees, changing the dynamics of ground encounters.


“I guess the good part is it’s mixed martial arts,” Northcutt said. “It’s not just a grappling match. If we get to the ground, it’s not just grappling out there. You do have strikes. It’s not just a striking match either. Being prepared to do what it takes out there.”


Confident in his grappling skills and having trained with elite wrestlers and jiu-jitsu practitioners, Northcutt asserts that he is ready for the challenge.


“I feel very confident in my grappling skill set, especially taking into account that it’s not just straight submission grappling out there. It is mixed martial arts. Grappling with strikes, grappling with everything combined in there. I’m feeling good about it.”


As Northcutt aims to avoid becoming part of Aoki's highlight reel, he prepares to add the former ONE champion to his list of conquered opponents.


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