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Sage Northcutt last fought in May 2019. Amid much excitement, riding a three-fight UFC win streak, that is when Northcutt made his debut for ONE Championship—and was promptly knocked out in 29 seconds by Cosmo Alexandre.

“That didn’t go the way I wanted,” says Northcutt. “Losing has definitely given me some extra drive.”

Northcutt (11-3) has a chance to return to the win column in May at ONE Fight Night 10, where he will fight Ahmed Mujtaba in a lightweight bout. It marks Northcutt’s first fight in that weight class since 2018, when he defeated Thibault Gouti.

“My last fight was at 185 pounds, and the hydration tests were new to me and something I’d never experienced before,” says Northcutt, who does not intend to return to welterweight. “That was a learning experience for me. Fighting at lightweight is definitely a better weight class for me.”

The original return date for Northcutt was scheduled for April 2021 against Shinya Aoki, but a bout with COVID disrupted those plans. After being inactive in all of 2020, 2021, and 2022, Northcutt is eager to finally display a whole new version of himself, one honed at Team Alpha Male.

“Before I flew overseas, I got pretty sick trying to train through COVID,” says Northcutt. “Now I’m 100 percent.

“I was on a three-fight win streak before I signed with ONE. Before that, I was studying to be an engineer. This is my chance to showcase all my training, which I’m doing full-time. I couldn’t be more excited to fight, especially in the US.”

If Northcutt is victorious in May, then he will quickly be remembered as a fighter who has won four of his last five instead of someone coming off a KO. Accumulating back-to-back wins would put him on the radar of ONE lightweight champion Christian Lee, which is his goal.

“Christian is a great fighter, and that’s a matchup I look forward to in the future,” says Northcutt. “I want several fights this year. I want two or three fights, that’s what I’d like to do this year. But right now, all my focus is on my next one.”

A return from Northcutt adds another layer of excitement to ONE. Only 26, there is a tremendous amount left for him to prove. Despite the time away from active competition, he remains optimistic about executing a celebratory front flip.

“I can definitely still do it,” says Northcutt, and he is motivated to rewrite his past.

“My whole career is in front of me,” says Northcutt. “I’m just getting started.”