By Adam Martin
If you’re a UFC fan, then you’ve obviously heard about Sage Northcutt.
The 19-year-old super prospect from Texas is the youngest fighter on the UFC roster, but also one of the promotion’s fastest-rising stars. Since joining the UFC late last year, Northcutt is 2-0 in the UFC with stoppage victories over Cody Pfister and Francisco Trevino. In his young career he is 7-0, with all seven of his victories coming by way of knockout or submission, five in the first round.
Not only can Northcutt fight, but he also has the “look” to be a superstar in the sport. He’s a good-looking kid and the UFC isn’t shy about marketing him that way. He’s also excellent on social media and a great talker in interviews. He truly has the world at his feet, and if he can stay disciplined and not succumb to the celebrity lifestyle, he really could be a title challenger sooner than we all think.
After his first UFC fight, a TKO win over Trevino which took place on the UFC 192 preliminary card, the UFC saw the rise in his popularity and gave him a push to the main card for his second UFC fight against Pfister at UFC Fight Night 80. But that bout was on UFC Fight Pass, and only subscribers to that service could watch the bout, which limited his exposure.
It would also be huge for the UFC, who is desperate for superstars right now. The UFC has Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor as its top superstars, and a collection of secondary stars, but the promotion needs more superstars. At 19, and just a few fights into his UFC career, obviously Northcutt isn’t close to being in that conversation just yet. But it’s a huge opportunity to put his name out there for new fans who might not know him yet, and if he scores an impressive win against a highly beatable opponent in Barberena, it would be big for Northcutt and for the UFC, who could place him on more high-profile cards.
The UFC has truly found something special in Northcutt, and is giving him the chance to display his talents on the big stage for the very first time. It’s all up to Northcutt now to do what he does best, and that’s finish his opponents in the cage. A win over Barberena at UFC on FOX 18, especially a dominant knockout or slick submission, will help him explode as a star in the sport, and for the UFC, who is desperate for them. Now let’s see what he does with this opportunity.
UFC on Fox 18
• Sage Northcutt vs. Bryan Barberena
UFC on FOX 18: Johnson vs. Bader takes place on January 30, 2016 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.