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Urijah Faber: Sage Northcutt’s cheek was ‘splintered’ into ‘30 pieces’ in ONE debut

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There’s not a lot you can say when one of your fighters is knocked out in less than 30 seconds.

That’s the situation Urijah Faber and his team had to deal with when they cornered Sage Northcutt this past Friday in his promotional debut at ONE Championship: Enter the Dragon in Kallang, Singapore. The former UFC fighter was stopped in the first-round by kickboxing ace Cosmo Alexandre when Alexandre landed a cracking right hand that left Northcutt flat on the mat.

Faber appeared on The MMA Hour on Monday to talk about what went wrong for the 23-year-old Team Alpha Male prospect.

“25 seconds in really, he got stalked, Cosmo who’s an amazing kickboxer and a big, strong guy, came out and pressed the action right off the bat,” Faber told host Luke Thomas. “Right off the bat, did like a couple of stutter steps, switch-step fakes to kind of corral Sage in. Sage went one way and then the other way, first time in a ring, and literally gets manhunted with the nastiest punch and crushes his whole face. Basically splintered his cheek into 30 pieces and broke his orbital bone. He had eight different fractures and literally they had to pick the pieces of the bone fragments out. 30 different pieces out of his face.

“So a bunch went wrong, 23, 25 seconds in we really didn’t see much of a fight. Cosmo’s a seven-time world champ, he’s a dangerous, fighting at 185 pounds, under the impression that nobody cuts weight in ONE FC and they do hydration tests because of etc., and we didn’t get to see much of a fight to be honest.”

The damage from Alexandre’s finishing blow was evident in a post that Northcutt later shared on social media in which he wrote that he had to undergo a nine-hour operation to take care of his injuries. Faber said that the always-positive Northcutt appeared to be in good spirits.

In regards to any potential issues with weight, Faber mentioned that it’s possible Northcutt (who competed at lightweight and welterweight in the UFC before meeting Alexandre at 185 pounds) was giving up some size despite ONE’s strict weight-cutting policies. ONE does not make their weigh-in results public and the lack of transparency raised the question of whether or not Alexandre had an advantage in Faber’s eyes.

“Sage is such a faith-based guy and takes things as they’re said. Of course, everybody’s cutting weight,” Faber said. “I was kind of trying to wrap my head around the thing and you have to do a hydration test and they weigh you in a couple of days in a row, so it makes it really difficult. But I talked to multiple guys there that were cutting weight and it is what it is.

“That wasn’t the main problem there. Cosmo’s an incredible fighter, seasoned Muay Thai kickboxer, 7-1 as a mixed martial artist. Just came across the ring and landed a nasty punch and ended it for Sage there.”

This was the first knockout loss of Northcutt’s career and also the first time he’d failed to make it out of the first round. He compiled a 6-2 record competing in the UFC and was viewed as an intriguing signing for ONE when the company announced that it was bringing him into the fold last November.

According to Faber, the transition not been without its speed bumps due to Northcutt not being completely healthy and he wondered if his team should have counseled him to hold off on making his ONE debut until the circumstances were more favorable.

“There’s a lot of stuff going into this fight, he’d had to pull out a couple of different times on dates, it’s been almost 10 months since he actually had a fight,” Faber said. “Didn’t get to see him follow through with practices for a long time now because of some little injuries. In retrospect, there were some warning signs maybe not to take this fight and like you said, it’s not like you go into a fight thinking you’re gonna get your face smashed.

“But against some advice, the fight was taken, not that we don’t believe in Sage absolutely, in the future I’d like to see him at 170 pounds and I’d like to see him at least be able to follow through with an entire camp or at least more than he was able to. Again, that’s not the reason why he lost the fight. He fought a great competitor and it’s his first time in the ring and kind of a freak of a thing happened with his face shattering like that I feel like. In the future, maybe coaches having the final say on whether or not a guy goes out there is a good idea and I think talking to his father who loves Sage very much and believes in him, hard lesson learned for all of us.”