Saturday, October 1, 2022

Sage Northcutt Returns April 28 To Face Former Champion Shinya Aoki

Sage Northcutt will be making his return to action on April 28 when he takes on former ONE Championship lightweight champion Shinya Aoki.

ESPN broke the news Wednesday that former UFC star Sage Northcutt has his return date and opponent set when the 24-year-old upstart takes on Shinya Aoki on April 28. The card will take place on TNT in primetime. The fight will be contested at 170 lbs. in what is ONE’s lightweight division. There is currently no other bout scheduled for the card.

Sage Northcutt made his MMA debut at the age of 18, and by 19 he was already competing in the UFC. Due to his young age, incredible physique, and lifelong training, Northcutt was viewed as one of if not the biggest prospects in MMA at the time of his arrival in the UFC. Northcutt delivered on the hype in his first two bouts in the UFC which were both stoppage wins, but then would suffer his first two losses within his next three fights. Northcutt was able to get back on track with a three-fight winning streak between 2017-2018 and leave the promotion with an impressive 6-2 record. 

ONE Championship 96: Twitter reacts to Sage Northcutt's quick KO loss
Sage Northcutt Comes Up Short In ONE Championship Debut Against Cosmo Alexandre. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Despite the success of the run and Northcutt’s potential, he and the UFC were unable to come to terms on a new deal, but ONE Championship was more than happy to welcome him with open arms. Northcutt was unsuccessful in his ONE debut, suffering a knockout loss to Cosmo Alexandre at ONE Championship: Enter the Dragon. Nearly two years have passed since this defeat, and Northcutt has now had enough time to lick his wounds, but he will have another difficult test ahead of him in Shinya Aoki. 

37-year-old Shinya Aoki is a 17-year veteran of MMA and is considered to be a legend of the sport. Aoki has been competing in ONE since 2012 and has a promotional record of 12-3. Aoki captured the ONE lightweight championship in 2019 after defeating Eduard Folayang but would then lose the title in his first title defense against Christian Lee.

Shinya Aoki - Evolve MMA Singapore | Asia's #1 Mixed Martial Arts Gym
The Well-Decorated Shinya Aoki. Credit: Evolve MMA

Aoki has gone on a three-fight winning streak since dropping the title, though, so he will be bringing a different wavelength of momentum with him than his opponent Sage Northcutt. Aoki is most known for his grappling, even being crowned the Bleacher Report Grappler of the Decade in 2000s to pair well with the many jiu-jitsu championships he has won. 

With this fight booked, all three of ONE’s big UFC signees: Demetrious Johnson, Eddie Alvarez, and Sage Northcutt have fights lined up in the first quarter of 2021. Thus far, Northcutt is the only of the three yet to pick up a victory. “Super Sage” will look to change this on April 28.

How do you think Sage Northcutt will fare in his second ONE Championship bout when he faces former champion Shinya Aoki?

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