Michael Chandler and Sage Northcutt are on two completely separate paths. Chandler is set to fight Patricky Freire for the vacant Bellator lightweight title on Friday night's Bellator: Dynamite 2 co-main event, while Northcutt is looking to rebound from his first professional loss, as he takes on Enrique Marin on the UFC 200 preliminary card.
The 20-year-old Northcutt was choked out by Bryan Barberena in January, momentarily halting his push up the competitive ladder, with the UFC giving him a considerable marketing push since he made his debut at UFC 192. His $40,000/$40,000 salary also drew the ire of some more established fighters, most notably former UFC heavyweight Matt Mitrione.
As Northcutt looks to get back on the winning track, he's been (if somewhat indirectly) making headlines through a recent sparring session with Muay Thai fighter Ilya Grad. While Grad was complimentary of Northcutt, he had less-than-kind things to say about his dad (a claim Sage's dad has already responded to).
In an interview with MMA Fighting, Chandler revealed that him and Northcutt had recently trained together at Blackzilians, and he had nothing but praise for the young fighter and his family.
"He's a cool guy," Chandler said. "There's so much jealousy surrounding that kid. There's so much animosity from people that don't even know him. It's unfair. But, at the end of the day, he's been put in a situation where he's in the spotlight and people are jealous of that."
"They've always been very nice people, respectful people," Chandler said. "Very complimentary. Very nice. I think they're some of the nicest people I've been in contact with, so I've got nothing but good things to say about them."
After pointing out that Northcutt is "very very green in the sport", Chandler stated that he is willing to help Northcutt further develop his career.
"I definitely would not hesitate to help him with anything he needs, because I think this sport needs more people like him," Chandler said. "This sport needs more positive influences. There's no doubt that no matter what Sage decides to do -- whether he just says forget this fight thing and decides he's gonna be a petroleum engineer and do that for his family or he becomes the best fighter of all time, he's gonna be a role model and we need more role models in this sport."
Just a little fun fact to close this article out. When Michael Chandler made his professional MMA debut on August 8th, 2009, Sage Northcutt was just 13 years old. Northcutt wouldn't make his pro debut for another 5 years. Something to think about when prospects lose early in their careers.