A fight has just been announced between one of the biggest legends of Japanese MMA, Shinya Aoki, and the young UFC veteran, Sage Northcutt. Originally reported by ESPN, the fight will be part of ONE FC’s month on TNT and is set for April 28th, where the two fighters will meet at 170lbs in a Welterweight showdown. Despite being over five years removed from his UFC debut, Northcutt is still only 24 years old and this will only be the second fight he’s taken for ONE FC.
Northcutt left the UFC riding a three-fight winning streak after alternating wins and losses for his first four fights for the promotion. Despite being on a good run, his first fight for ONE FC showed that Northcutt was still very much a developing fighter. He was matched against Cosmo Alexandre, a brutal knockout artist with well over a decade of competitive experience and multiple titles in both Muay Thai and Kickboxing before he ever even stepped into the cage. Alexandre proved to be way too much, way too soon for Northcutt and he suffered a knockout loss that left him with a broken orbital bone, the recovery of which kept him out of the cage until now.
Aoki actually fought at the exact same event as Northcutt and lost his ONE FC Lightweight title in a battle against Christian Lee. He came out relatively unscathed however and has fought and won three more times since then, finishing two of his opponents by submission. This brings his career record to 46-9-1 heading into the match against Northcutt, with an astounding 30 submission finishes over nearly two decades competing in the sport.
It seems strange then that the promotion has chosen to match Sage Northcutt with Shinya Aoki, yet another incredibly experienced and dangerous competitor. The only saving grace for Northcutt here is that Aoki will definitely be undersized at 170lbs and his specializing in grappling means that the match will be much less likely to end in a devastating injury.