If you’re wondering just how Sage Northcutt could have lost his fight against Bryan Barberena at UFC on Fox 18, he’s got you covered with an explanation. The UFC’s young rising star took to the MMAHour this week, where he spoke to Ariel Helwani about the first pro loss of his career. And, to hear him tell it, that loss was largely down to one thing. Not Barberena, not a lack of grappling skill, but a wicked case of strep throat, that saw the young fighter in the emergency room just a couple days before his fight (transcript via MMAFighting).
“Two days before my fight, I had a real bad relapse of the strep throat and I had to go to the emergency ready clinic,” Northcutt explained. “The UFC had to take me, then [a doctor] with the UFC had to write a prescription for more antibiotics, stuff like that. So I really couldn’t explain how I felt out there. I felt really horrible.”
“Coming up in the week for the UFC, I always try to keep a smile on my face and act like there’s nothing going on, so that way no one would know that I was even sick or anything like that. The UFC knew I was sick because I had to go to the emergency clinic. But really, I was just laying down in bed and sleeping the whole time coming into the event, besides going out and doing the media that I got do to and had to do for the UFC.”
“It wasn’t the fact that I was panicking. I felt very calm,” Northcutt said. “The thing was, having a hard time breathing and having a mouthpiece in … when he was on top of me, having his shoulder, I guess, in my throat for that — I know it wasn’t like a traditional head and arm choke from side control where you get to apply the same kind of pressure, but just being able to have your jaw shut and then trying to breathe through your nose for this time during the fight, I was so congested, to tell you the truth, that I couldn’t even breathe, much less stand up really.”
Despite knowing he was way under the weather, however, Northcutt went on to make it clear that he wasn’t about to pull out of the fight, because fighting is his job. He didn’t want to let down family, fans, friends, or the UFC, by pulling out of his bout. But, eventually, as he told Helwani, that’s what he feels he did.
“I felt like I let everybody down and let the UFC down. I let myself down.”
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