Five months have passed since Sage Northcutt suffered the first professional loss of his fighting career at UFC on FOX 18, tapping to a second-round arm-triangle at the hands of MMA Lab prospect Bryan Barberena. Northcutt revealed after the bout that he battled a nasty case of strep throat all throughout fight week, and ahead of his return at UFC 200, Northcutt brushed the loss off largely as a result of circumstance.
"I believe, looking back at my last fight, that was a fluke deal," Northcutt said Monday on The MMA Hour. "If I wasn't sick, I believe I would've finished off my opponent very quickly. That's what I go out there and do all the time, is finish off my opponents. I had four knockouts and three submissions, so that's what I'm looking to do for this fight and I'm just excited."
Northcutt is currently scheduled to face The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 2 runner-up Enrique Marin on July 9 at UFC 200's blockbuster pay-per-view. Northcutt and Marin open up the FOX Sports 1 portion of the card, which for Northcutt will be a new experience, considering that he and Barberena fought on FOX back in January.
Barberena has flourished since that short-notice meeting, picking up a big win over another heavily hyped prospect in Warlley Alves at UFC 198. The back-to-back upsets earned Barberena a well-deserved reputation as a prospect killer, but Northcutt said he isn't bothered by seeing Barberena's success.
"Like I said, it was a fluke deal in my last fight," Northcutt said. "I know how that looks, I wasn't my normal self. I'm very explosive, and to go out there, you saw me trip over my own feet and have to fall on the ground. I had to throw that kick after falling, so that wasn't something that I would do. That wasn't being my normal self. I didn't have my normal speed, my normal explosiveness, none of that, and I believe that the people watching can see that.
"So, if I was my normal self, it would've been a different story," he added.
Northcutt said that the biggest lesson he learned from the experience was that sometimes it is necessary to pull out of a fight if his health isn't right, even if it isn't the most fun option.
That lesson is important, too, considering that Northcutt's road back to UFC 200 has been anything but smooth. For months, the 20-year-old lightweight battled a bad case of MRSA infection that he picked up while training in Montreal at Tristar. He only recently was fully cleared. Northcutt also dealt with a bizarre online feud with Muay Thai champion Ilya Grad, who publicly criticized Northcutt's father in a social media post following a sparring session.
Still, Northcutt is as positive a person as they come, and he oozed enthusiasm at being given the "honor" of fighting Marin on a show as big as UFC 200.
"I believe I've heard that he was The Ultimate Fighter finalist, and it looks like, from his previous fights, it looked like he was pretty tough in his previous fights. I think it's going to be great," Northcutt said.
"I believe that I'm pretty well-rounded, so if it's standing up, if it's the ground, wherever the fight takes me, wherever it goes, I believe that I'm going to be victorious."