One of MMA's brightest prospects, Sage Northcutt, was scheduled to face off against Shinya Aoki for ONE Championship, their fourth event working in tandem with TNT. However, Northcutt was heavily affected by the long term effects of catching COVID and was forced to drop out.
Aoki instead fought a trilogy bout with Eduard Folayang, which he won comfortably via submission. Alternatively, Northcutt now appears to be nearing full recovery, and it may well be that the two men finally face off later this year.
How Close is Northcutt to Full Recovcery?
In a recent interview with SCMP MMA's Nick Atkin, Northcutt discussed how close he was to a recovery. He stated that:
"I'm getting checked out by a specialist. I'm getting some more blood work done this Friday. So I'm hoping that the bloodwork comes back good and everything with my immune system checks out so I can get back to training and get another fight scheduled."
When news first dropped that Northcutt would be unable to face Aoki at ONE on TNT IV, it was not made initially clear just how compromised Northcutt was. He revealed that he initially contracted COVID in January and was affected by it severely.
"I was training hard. I was looking forward to the fight with Shinya (Aoki). And as you know.. I came down with Covid back in January. And then from there I develiped blood clots from being sick. After blood clots I was getting blood work done, checking out how I'm healing up with my progression and everything."
However, the impact of COVID continues to haunt Northcutt past his initial contraction. Similar to what forced UFC bantamweight Cody Garbrandt out of action for an extended period of time, Nortcutt states that he was feeling the effects of long-COVID. He said:
"I had some pain in my kidneys so got that checked out and my kidneys weren't doing too good from the COVID. And then my immune system was pretty much compromised. So I've just been healing up from that."
Northcutt Question's Shinya Aoki's Integrity
Northcutt does still seem interested in the fight with Aoki. If anything, there now appears to be some bad blood between the two men. After Aoki called out Northcutt following his win over Folayang, the two had a back and forth on social media. Northcutt had the following to say:
"I was very respectful. If anything it makes me qurstion his integrity and his character. I mean One Championship, martial arts, it's about integrity, honour and character."