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UFC Boise’s Sage Northcutt says he feels ‘more calm’ after not feeling like himself earlier in career

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Sage Northcutt spoke about his return to welterweight for UFC Boise, where he meets Zak Ottow.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Austin-Northcutt vs Gouti Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

‘Super’ Sage Northcutt returns at UFC Fight Night: Dos Santos vs. Ivanov this Saturday. In Boise, ID he’ll take on Zak Ottow in a welterweight match-up. This will be the first time Northcutt has competed at 170 lbs since losing, via submission, to Mickey Gall at UFC on FOX 22 in 2016.

Last time out, Northcutt improved his record to 9-2 with a victory over Thibault Gouti, giving him a two-fight win streak in the lightweight division. Northcutt said the Gouti fight left him with, “lots of stuff to improve on,” when interviewed by Bloody Elbow.

“There’s a few things, looking back at the fight, that I’ve been working on. I’m making myself better! I think moving up a weight class now to 170 is going to make a big difference for me because it’s more of a natural weight and I should be able to perform better out there, in my opinion.”

Northcutt added that the training camp for his fight against Ottow, his third at Sacramento’s Team Alpha Male, is his first full camp for a welterweight fight. Northcutt’s first welterweight bout was against Bryan Barberena in 2016. Barberena was a late replacement for Andrew Holbrook. Northcutt and Holbrook were scheduled to compete at lightweight, but Northcutt moved up to 170 to accommodate the match-up with his new opponent.

Northcutt’s only other welterweight fight was against Gall, also in 2016. Northcutt said he didn’t have a training camp for that fight because of his obligations to school. He lost to both Barbarena and Gall by second round submission.

Despite his 0-2 record at welterweight, Northcutt is eager to return to the division and he believes he’ll be a different fighter at the higher weight this time around.

“My two losses in the UFC, out of all my pro career have been at 170,” he said. “But truly I wasn’t at 170 at the time and I also didn’t have a training camp. So this is my first time having a training camp fighting at 170 and I think I’ve been making lots of improvements.”

“I always walk around very lean,” continued Northcutt. “So when I fight at 155, the last several pounds are pretty tough for me to make, because — even though I’ve made weight every time for all my fights in the UFC and all five fights at 155 have been victorious; which is great — I haven’t quite felt like myself.”

Another reason why Northcutt is eager to establish himself at 170 lbs is because of the changes his body has gone through in the last 24 months. The Texan entered the promotion at 19-years-old. Now 22, Northcutt said his muscle mass has increased he has gotten a little taller.

Northcutt said he is eating more to fuel his body than before. But he stressed he was still eating “super clean.” However, Northcutt did admit that he now seasons his food, after two decades of eating his food plain.

“I do put a little bit seasoning on my food now,” confessed Northcutt. “Just because with intense training you sweat so much that you have to put that salt back in your body. I guess I experienced having seasoning on my food, a lot of seasoning, training with Tyron Woodley a while back, so that was cool.”

Adding salt and pepper to his steamed salmon isn’t the only change Northcutt has enjoyed since entering pro MMA in 2014. Northcutt, now a veteran of seven UFC fights, said he now feels “more calm out there in the cage.”

Another area of development Northcutt listed was that he now felt more equipped at transitioning between the various elements of MMA; from striking to wrestling, wrestling to grappling, and so forth. He also mentioned that he has improved his ground game, specifically how to get his back off of the mat.

Northcutt said these improvements came not only because of Team Alpha Male and his father’s coaching (Northcutt’s father still gives his son instructions and watches tape of his opponents), but because he has fully dedicated himself to MMA.

Until recently Northcutt was balancing his fight career with studying at college to be a petroleum engineer. He dabbled in some mechanical engineering, too. But since losing to Gall, Northcutt has moved to Sacramento and put academics on hold.

“I’m trying to become the best fighter I can be and in the future be the champion of the world for the UFC,” said Northcutt. “It was a lot of work being at school and all of that, as I was at the number one school in the nation for engineering in the oil and gas field. So now I’ve put it on hold to to focus full-time on the fighting.”

Northcutt’s opportunity to show improvement on his return to 170 lbs will be tested by Zak Ottow on Saturday night. The Milwaukee-based fighter is a veteran of 21 fights, who TKO’d Mike Pyle in his last contest.

When asked for his assessment of Ottow, Northcutt said: “I know he’s a pretty big guy, that’s what I’ve heard. And I think someone told me he’s played football, so that’s pretty cool. I know he’s a weight class up from what I usually fight, but I’ve been training super hard so I’m looking forward to the fight. No matter if it’s him as an opponent or someone else as an opponent, I’m trying to train every aspect of my game. Everything from the striking to the wrestling, jiu jitsu, the cage work, every single part of MMA. I want to be the best I can be out there so I can perform the best!”

Sage Northcutt vs. Zak Ottow is the co-main event of UFC Fight Night: Dos Santos vs. Ivanov. The main card action begins at 10 PM ET. You can watch it live, beamed from Boise, ID, on FS1.