HOUSTON -- You can't blame Sage Northcutt for feeling like this is all happening pretty fast.
When Northcutt takes to the Octagon on Saturday night to meet lightweight Francisco Trevino in a UFC 192 Fight Pass prelim bout, the Katy, Texas native will be 19 years, seven months and one day old, making him the third-youngest male fighter in UFC history.
But here he is, just 10 months after his pro MMA debut, not only in the sport's big league, but also being featured at the open workouts, a promotional space otherwise reserved for the likes of Daniel Cormier, Alexander Gustafsson, and Rashad Evans.
"It's an honor to be out here doing an open workout with everybody, and for everyone to see this," Northcutt said. "I'm very thankful for this. I've trained for this my whole life, and getting to the UFC has always been a goal of mine, so I always visualized this, always seen myself in the UFC, and, here it is, I'm excited."
With enthusiasm like that, it's no wonder more than one person at the open workouts referred to Northcutt as a male Paige VanZant.
But Northcutt has experience which belies his age. He comes from a martial arts family: His father's a black belt in karate, and his older sister, Colbey, is an amateur kickboxing champion. Northcutt has competed in martial arts competitions around the world from an early age, which he believes helps make up for his lack of experience otherwise.
"I started doing martial arts from the time I was four-and-a-half years old," Northcutt said. "So by the time I was seven I've been traveling, competing all around the world, Russia, Croatia, Ireland, Mexico, so many times, everywhere you can think of, I've been in front of large crowds since I was little, so I guess that's part of it. The bigger the crowd, the more I feel comfortable."
Given his background, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Northcutt's favorite MMA fighter is one with a deep belief in martial arts ethos.
"I would say Georges St-Pierre was my favorite fighter," Northcutt said. "He's a phenomenal athlete. He's ripped up, he's in shape, he has incredible cardio, conditioning, strength, he's super well rounded, he can just pick somebody apart with the jab and just beat them up, or he can take them down, he has the best MMA timing for takedowns."
Northcutt trails just Dan Lauzon (18 when he fought Spencer Fisher at UFC 64) and the long-forgotten Sean Daugherty (who was 19 when he lasted 20 seconds at UFC 2 in his only appearance) for the title of youngest UFC fighter.
But unlike those two, who lost their debuts, Northcutt, at 5-0 with five finishes, not only plans on a victory, but wants to put on a show in the process.
"Everybody likes to finish them or finish them as quick as possible," Northcutt said. "I don't know if everyone thinks that way, but they might think I want to go through rounds, or go two rounds and make this guy tired. But I look at myself as being explosive, being quick to finish the guy and put on a great show for everybody."