Move aside Chris Evans, the real “Captain America” is in town.
Indeed, Sage Northcutt, with his chiseled good looks, incredible athleticism and body of an Adonis, wouldn’t look out of place among the Avengers.
The young mixed martial artist will be making his much-anticipated ONE Championship debut on 17 May 2019 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Much has been expected of Northcutt.
Besides, he cut his teeth in the UFC, the premier mixed martial arts (MMA) organisation in the world, racking up a commendable record of eight victories and two losses (his overall MMA record is 11-2) before signing for ONE Championship in late 2018.
His next opponent will be Brazilian Cosmo Alexandre, who also has a respectable MMA record of 7-1.
The bout between 23-year-old Northcutt and 37-year-old Alexandre is arguably the most intriguing on the impressive card.
Will the exuberance of youth triumph over experience? And more importantly, will Northcutt live up to his name as one of the most promising young fighters in the world of mixed martial arts?
On paper, Northcutt has a wider repertoire of skill compared to Alexandre, packs a punch and has a gas tank that allows him to go the distance. Out of 11 victories, he won five by knockout, three via decision and two by submission.
Northcutt’s two losses came via submission. His opponent on Friday night is primarily a kick-boxer who has won all his bouts via decisions or strikes. Alexandre is relatively one-dimensional and in addition, his last MMA fight was more than two years ago in September 2016. “Cage rust” may be a factor.
It is also worth noting that Northcutt himself is an accomplished kick-boxer who has 15 victories and no losses. Most certainly, the American has the footwork and is able to roll with the kicks and punches.
“To be honest, I don’t see a lot of weakness in him,” Northcutt said. “He’s a veteran, a tremendous striker, and very dangerous. I have a lot of respect for him. I’ve trained very hard for this fight, and I’m going to train very hard for every single fight.”
The signs point to a victory for Northcutt in his inaugural ONE Championship fight. But as they say in MMA, anything can happen in the cage, especially with five-ounce gloves.
Beyond the fight, ONE Championship has managed to secure a coup of sorts by signing Northcutt. The marketing opportunities are immense and he has the potential to attract a new demographic to the sport.
For one, his signing has lent further credentials to ONE Championship.
Contrary to some media reports, Northcutt wasn’t dropped from the UFC. Instead, between the two, he made the conscious decision to sign for the Singapore-based organisation.
“The UFC wanted to keep me as one of their fighters,” Northcutt said, in an interview for Bleacher Report. “My contract ended and from there I was looking forward to getting to see all the offers on the table, not just from the UFC.
I had to wait a 90-day period and the UFC tried to keep me. They offered me a fight in the top-10, but from there I went out to see ONE Championship.”
He added: “I watched their event, I spoke to Mr Chatri (Sityodtong), and when I got to see his love for the sport and for the fighters, that’s when I made up my mind to fight for ONE.”
Northcutt also told reporters at the pre-fight press conference: “ONE Championship is about respect and honour and the true martial arts. That’s how I grew up. I was raised in these values.”
“Since I was a kid, I’ve trained karate and kickboxing,” he continued. “I’ve won 77 titles in karate and was 15-0 as a kickboxer, so having the footwork and movement for that since I was a kid I think would translate back to kickboxing and even muay thai now as a professional. I want to be the first champion of kickboxing, muay thai and mixed martial arts in ONE history.”
Furthermore, his clean lifestyle and movie-star appeal have the potential to bring more fans to the sport, especially here in Asia where MMA is still growing.
Looks do matter. Obvious examples in sport would be David Beckham and Maria Sharapova, who have built a solid brand and business beyond their achievements.
Recently, a particular Lily He caught the attention of golf fans in Singapore and the region. Even though she wasn’t in contention at the HSBC Women’s World Championship, people were talking about her, and her bikini-clad pose beside the infinity pool at Marina Bay Sands.
Northcutt, with the right branding strategy in place and victories against top contenders, will be a hit among the fans. Who knows? He may the superhero that brings MMA in Asia to yet another level.
Catch ONE: Enter The Dragon live at Singapore Indoor Stadium on May 17.
You can get your tickets here at https://www.sportshub.com.sg/ONEChampionshipLeave a comment