Sage Northcutt will not be making his return on April 28 against combat sports legend, Shinya Aoki.
Northcutt was set for his fight in nearly two years after his horrendous ONE Championship debut where he was knocked ut by Cosmo Alexandre in just 29 seconds. Since then, he has been healing his injuries and was set to be a part of ONE on TNT 4 against Aoki, but according to ESPN, the former UFC fighter is out of the bout with lingering COVID-19 issues.
The good news for Aoki is that despite Northcutt’s withdrawal, he will remain on the card and face longtime rival Eduard Folayang in a trilogy bout.
Sage Northcutt (11-3) signed with ONE Championship after finishing out his UFC contract on a three-fight winning streak. However, in his debut where he got knocked out he had to move up to welterweight – 185lbs – due to the hydration rules of ONE. But, after some time away he was set to drop down to lightweight (170lbs) for this fight.
In his career, Northcutt has notable wins over Cody Pfister, Zak Ottow, and Thibault Goti among others. In the UFC, his losses came to Bryan Barberena and Mickey Gall and was submitted by both.
Having to pull out of the fight is no doubt disappointing for Northcutt who was eager to face Aoki, who he called a legend.
“I was super excited,” Northcutt told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani back in February about fighting Aoki. First thing, I went and told my coaches and called my family, I was super pumped. He’s a legend, he’s an incredible fighter. Super skilled with the groundwork, and he’s been around forever. I’m super stoked for it.”
For now, Northcutt will be back at home resting up and awaiting his next fight. Perhaps, he faces the winner of Aoki-Folayang or just gets an entirely new fight all together when he is healthy.
Cole Shelton covers MMA for BJPenn.com, MMANews, and MyMMANews.com while also being the lead MMA odds writer for Sports Betting Dime