In a surprising turn of events at ONE 165, the highly anticipated Sage Northcutt vs. Shinya Aoki matchup took an unexpected twist.
The unraveling of this saga began when Sage Northcutt revealed that his coaches faced deportation due to the absence of working visas. Unwilling to step into the ring without his coaching team, Northcutt opted out of the bout.
Shinya Aoki was disgruntled but determined. He ended up facing John Lineker, effortlessly clinching victory over the seasoned UFC veteran. However, the peculiar aspect of Lineker’s inexplicable weigh-in raised suspicions among MMA fans.
Sage Northcutt’s coach Urijah Faber recently shed light on the events leading to the bout’s cancellation, dispelling some misconceptions.
In an interview with Middle Easy, Faber revealed: “There’s a lot of misinterpretation there. I think if you watch Chatri [Sityodtong, ONE CEO]’s interview he kind of said the way it was: there was a last-minute hiccup in the visas of Fabio Prado and Mr. Mark Northcutt, Sage’s dad.”
According to Faber, a last-minute visa issue involving Fabio Prado and Mark Northcutt (Sage’s father) unfolded at 10:30 PM in Japan. Despite Faber’s clearance to be in Northcutt’s corner, the late-night revelation forced a change in plans.
“So, 10:30 at night in Japan, we learned that they were not gonna be able to be in the corner. I got a message around 11:30 from Mark that Sage was not gonna fight, and I talked to him face-to-face and kinda got the lowdown on what was going on. There was a lot of miscommunication and things like that. I was cleared to corner, I was cleared to be in the corner if Sage did wanna fight.”
“I didn’t actually get to talk to Sage face-to-face until about one o’clock in the afternoon on fight day. And the general consensus was that he did not feel comfortable fighting with a couple of different things that had happened. He is a very big man of faith, he has a relationship with God, and the holy spirit and felt like things weren’t adding up for him and he didn’t feel like fighting.”
Faber elaborated on the detailed conversations that took place, revealing that Sage and his team felt they were given inaccurate information and were thrust into a last-minute situation.
“I said ‘Are you sure?’ There are a lot more details on the nuts and bolts of the conversations that we had leading up to that happening, and they felt like they were misled and expected to go in there last minute.”
Contrary to initial reports, Faber clarified that he was not deported. He dispelled any rumors surrounding his departure from the event.
Faber explained: “When they said he wasn’t going to fight, I booked a flight home.”
The aftermath of the canceled match paints a picture of discontent within the MMA community. Whether it was miscommunication, last-minute changes, or undisclosed details, it appears that dissatisfaction looms over ONE’s handling of the situation.
Northcutt famously suffered a shattered jaw at ONE FC that left him sidelined for two years. Previously he discussed his faith saying:
“Knowing that God’s got plans for my future, he’s got plans for your future, that kind of keeps me positive and keeps me going, even if something looks like a setback. Two years later, maybe it’s a few months, maybe it’s days, you never know.”