Sage Northcutt issues a statement explaining his absence from the anticipated bout against Shinya Aoki at ONE 165.
The sudden change, announced just 40 minutes before the event, saw John Lineker stepping in as a replacement, a revelation made by the official ONE FC announcer, Dom Lau, during the broadcast.
Officially, the reason cited for Northcutt’s withdrawal is “unforeseen circumstances with his cornerman,” a justification that raises eyebrows in the MMA community.
While late dropouts are not uncommon in the sport, hints suggest that ONE FC might have been aware of this situation at least a day before the news broke.
Adding to the intrigue, Lineker had already weighed in the day before for an ‘undisclosed’ opponent, creating confusion around the timeline of events. If ONE FC had knowledge of Northcutt’s absence the day before, the decision to withhold the information seems questionable.
On the other hand, if this was an emergency this morning, clarification on Lineker’s presence at the weigh-ins yesterday becomes imperative.
Compounding the situation, ONE FC CEO Chatri Sityodtong had been actively promoting the Northcutt vs. Aoki bout throughout the week in media interviews.
Sage Northcutt, in response to the unexpected turn of events, took to Instagram to apologize to fans and opponent Aoki. He cited last-minute visa issues with two of his coaches as the reason for his withdrawal, and they were on their way back to the US. While ONE Championship offered a world champion Jiu Jitsu coach as a replacement, Northcutt emphasized the importance of having his original coaching team.
Despite the setback, he expressed gratitude to Chatri and ONE Championship for their efforts, acknowledging the exceptional talent on the ONE 165 card that fans will undoubtedly appreciate.
“I’m sorry to all my fans and to my opponent Shinya Aoki for not fighting tonight. There were some last-minute visa issues with two of my coaches and they are on their way back to the US right now. One Championship offered to help by giving me a world champion Jiu Jitsu coach for a replacement, but not having my coaches that I trained my whole camp with out there with me to compete against arguably the worlds greatest MMA submission artist of all time wasn’t going to be best for me. Thank you Chatri and One Championship for trying your best to make things work at the last minute. Again I apologize to Shinya and everyone that was tuning in. I know that One 165 is an incredible card with incredible world class talent that everybody will still enjoy”