Sage Northcutt will return to the Octagon for UFC 200, which is expected to be the biggest event in the promotion’s history.
Northcutt hasn’t fought since January, when he was defeated by Bryan Barberena at UFC on Fox 18. The nature of the half-guard triangle choke by which that match ended led many commentators and even fighters to suggest that perhaps Northcutt was over-hyped and under-skilled. That submission should have been easy enough to defend against for a professional in the UFC and highlighted that Northcutt has a lot of work to do, coming from primarily karate background.
This makes Northcutt’s next bout somewhat interesting. He will take on Enrique Marin, the Ultimate Fighter Latin America 2 runner-up. Marin (8-3) has a similar record to Northcutt (7-1) although much of that experience was on the local Spanish circuit and considered a lower level of competition than Northcutt is accustomed to. With the perceived caliber of Marin being fairly low, it has been suggested that the UFC are handing Northcutt an easy return to action to get him back in the win column, but it may not be that simple.
While the UFC giving Northcutt an easy path is to be expected, given that his rise promotes the new YouTube series, Dana White: Lookin’ for a Fight, there is a danger that the unlikely may again happen. Marin isn’t renowned for his stand-up game and has more of a grappling background with submission or decision victories. Although he lost his UFC debut to Erick Montano back in November, Marin has a skill set that Northcutt has demonstrated he is ill-equipped to deal with.
As a professor in his native country of Spain, Marin, 30, is intelligent enough to figure out what he needs to do and to know that a second defeat in the Octagon could be his last. With that extra motivation, you never know what could happen. Northcutt has to be careful not to get caught in any submissions. If we were to witness another surprise loss for the promising youngster, the 20-year-old’s UFC spot could come under a lot of pressure.