Another major roadblock has hit Sage Northcutt’s MMA career. The former UFC lightweight & welterweight competitor has been forced to withdraw from his upcoming bout against Japanese submission boogeyman Shinya Aoki for later this month.
‘Super’ Sage was scheduled to return to MMA for the first time after his devastating ONE debut against Cosmo Alexandre. The fight went as wrong as possibly could have, requiring partial facial reconstruction that kept Northcutt out of training for over a year.
That was May of 2019. Following his recovery, however, Northcutt found himself frustrated by COVID restrictions, hampering his ability to train due to gym closures nationwide. With a return to competition finally in sight, he’s had to pull out of his upcoming fight against former DREAM, Shooto, and ONE belt holder Shinya Aoki (46-9) due to COVID complications. The news came via a statement posted on the promotion’s social media accounts.
LEGEND VS. LEGEND TRILOGY— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) April 12, 2021
Shinya Aoki will now face Eduard Folayang in the final chapter of their historic rivalry on 28 April! @a_ok_i @efolayang #WeAreONE #ONEChampionship #ONEonTNT4 pic.twitter.com/v8HClJw49m
The following release was also issued regarding the matter:
Due to lingering COVID-19 issues, Sage Northcutt is not cleared by his doctors to compete on April 28th ONE on TNT IV. This is disappointing for ONE, Turner, but most importantly Sage and his family as they were looking forward to this and spent months preparing. Sage had COVID a few months ago and was doing his best to get himself in a good place but late last week the doctor, during his final checks, could not clear him.
No further details were released regarding Nortcutt’s status or how long he’s been ill. Hopefully, he makes a full recovery from any longterm effects of the virus. As such, there’s no immediate timetable for a potential return.
In the meantime, Aoki has been re-booked to face former lightweight champ Eduard Folayang (22-10) in a rematch. Their first encounter ended in a very Aoki fashion with another merciless submission. That fight was two years ago, however. Things may be more competitive this time around. Aoki is currently riding a three-fight winning streak since his last loss to current champ Christian Lee, while Folayang is now 1-3 since his loss to Aoki.