Sage Northcutt relishes chance to face Shinya Aoki: “The biggest fight of my career”

By BJPENN.COM Staff - January 22, 2024

At ONE 165 on January 28, Sage Northcutt will find himself in the fortunate position of going up against the legendary Shinya Aoki.

Sage Northcutt

This lightweight MMA clash takes place at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan. It offers the audience a spectacle that has been years in the making.

For Northcutt, this isn’t just another bout. It’s an extraordinary opportunity, a chance to test his skills against one of the most revered figures in the sport.

“A lot of people know him as a legend in the sport. This is definitely the biggest fight of my career,” the American phenom said.

“Look at his record, what he’s accomplished. He’s had an amazing career and I don’t think he has anything else to prove. It’s an honor to get to fight him.”

The matchup between Northcutt and Aoki has been a long time coming. Both men have expressed interest in facing each other multiple times. The anticipation reached its peak in 2021 just before their initial match.

Unfortunately, illness forced “Super” to withdraw, leaving fans and the fighters themselves eager for a future showdown.

Luckily, the stars aligned for the two to finally go head-to-head in ONE Championship’s return to “The Land of the Rising Sun.”

The tension escalated when they finally met face-to-face at the ONE 165 press conference late last year.

The Japanese icon refused a handshake from Northcutt, adding an extra layer of intensity to an already highly anticipated encounter.

Despite the mind games leading up to the duel, Northcutt remains focused and determined.

“Man, it just pumps me up more to where I want to go train even harder. I’m going to try to hit him super hard out there. It doesn’t frustrate me at all. It was just interesting,” he said.

Sage Northcutt plans to surprise Shinya Aoki

In terms of fighting styles, Sage Northcutt’s background as a multiple-time Karate World Champion in his youth contrasts sharply with Shinya Aoki’s credentials as a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and judo black belt.

That said, even though Northcutt posses striking prowess, he emphasizes his confidence in his all-around game.

“Every fight starts standing up, so he’s got to be able to get me on the ground if he wants to go on the ground. And if we decide to go on the ground, I’ve definitely been training for it,” Northcutt said.

“I believe in my jiu-jitsu and my grappling.”

Not content as just a striker, Northcutt wants to showcase his skills. In fact, the American believes he has the potential to become the first man to submit Aoki under MMA rules.

“If it gets into a grappling situation, or maybe he gets dropped and I’m on top of him, he’s also got to watch out for submissions too and be aware of those,” Northcutt said.

“He’s never been submitted in mixed martial arts, ever. So that’d be pretty insane if I was able to submit Shinya out there in MMA. That’d be something.”


ONE Championship