UFC fighter Sage Northcutt is one of the few figures to vault to almost instantaneous celebrity status within the insular world of combat sports. The now 20-year-old went from mid-carding Legacy FC shows to being a UFC attraction in just a matter of months. Then, in the form of Brian Barberena, he hit his first speed bump.
Since that first loss things haven't exactly been rocky, but they haven't had the same inevitable momentum of success that Northcutt rode in 2015. For one, Northcutt hasn't yet returned to the Octagon. He's currently getting ready for his bounce back to action at UFC 200, against Enrique Marin. But even time off and training camp hasn't been without its ups and downs.
The most controversial of those downs came recently when a sparring partner of Northcutt's went on the record to decry the role of Northcutt's father in his son's training camp. Ilya Grad went as far as to call Northcutt Sr. "possibly the worst coach I've seen." However, on a recent episode of the MMA Hour, Sage took Grad to task for what he claims was a "completely weird" fabrication of events (interview starting at 00:44:50 of the video above):
- Sage Northcutt spars with Ilya Grad.
"That was my first time training with him, and he's supposed to be a Muay Thai world champion. I'm not sure where he got his world title from," Northcutt said Monday on The MMA Hour. "As you could see from the fight, I actually showed up there -- my jiu-jitsu coach, my grappling coach set it all up. So I was supposed to go there and spar hard, and he starts making excuses saying his neck hurts, he's this, he's that and he can't spar, so we said okay.
"So I'm out there just toying around, as you could see in the video, barely touching him, just moving around, playing, pretty having fun, as you could see. And the comments he said, the things he said out there, those weren't true. None of those were true, and you could see that from the video."
And perhaps with that quick rise to celebrity in mind, Northcutt went on to questions Grad's motives for supposedly creating the story he did. Northcutt posited that Grad "was just trying to get some limelight from us and get some attention and get his name out there."
Mudslinging for personal gain is hardly unheard of, of course, but concerns regarding Northcutt's training and the close eye his father seems to have on his fight camps didn't originate with Grad either. Eventually only time will tell which side (if either) has the right of it.
Sage Northcutt returns to action on July 9th in Las Vegas, Nevada. He'll be fighting Enrique Marin on the Fox Sports 1 prelim card of UFC 200. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for more news and notes as the UFC's massive PPV event looms.