That burning heap over on the side of the hill? Yeah, that's the Sage Northcutt hype train. It got derailed in Hollywood fashion at UFC on Fox 18.
Northcutt is a 19-year-old superathlete and a good prospect for the UFC. It scooped him up and instantly put the marketing machine behind him. When that happens, there can be backlash or ill feelings. And none of that is the fault of a young prospect who accepted what was offered to him.
What really caused the ruckus online was how Bryan Barberena defeated Northcutt.
Barberena was moving toward an arm-triangle choke, but he had not even passed over to the correct side to tighten it up before Northcutt was tapping out. Joe Rogan stated on the broadcast that it was an early choke. It should be noted that Northcutt did not come from a grappling background. He is still learning and becoming a well-rounded fighter.
And Twitter reacted in all its glory to the result.
All was normal during the first round:
Forget giving Sage Northcutt someone who can test him. Can we at least give him someone with abs?— Ben Fowlkes (@benfowlkesMMA) January 31, 2016
Sage's feint-right cross comes with some real youthful exuberance. Landed nice early and put Barberena on his ass when he landed it for real— Jordan Breen (@jordanbreen) January 31, 2016
Fun round 1!— Dave Sholler (@Sholler_UFC) January 31, 2016
Barberena doesnt look to be in great shape but normally he gets better as the fight goes on, likes an ugly fight. Lets see how he starts 2nd— Brian Stann (@BrianStann) January 31, 2016
Barbarena tagged Northcutt with a couple hard rights at the end of the round. Couldn't tell if Barbarena's corner was psyched or surprised.— Ben Fowlkes (@benfowlkesMMA) January 31, 2016
And then it happened:
That was an awesome little cart wheel kick by Northcutt but not worth you getting stuck on the bottom. #UFC— Roxanne Modafferi (@Roxyfighter) January 31, 2016
Welp...— Brent Brookhouse (@brentbrookhouse) January 31, 2016
Wow. That hype train got hit w/ a nuke— Brian Stann (@BrianStann) January 31, 2016
WHAT! Oh, man. #UFConFOX18— Sydnie Jones (@syd1138) January 31, 2016
Northcutt is still a promising athlete and young talent, but man, he needs a ground game that isn't just holding and waiting.— Ben Fowlkes (@benfowlkesMMA) January 31, 2016
Northcutt was nowhere near trapped, almost any vet would've escaped that. Tapped because he was panicked and exhausted. That's being 19.— Jordan Breen (@jordanbreen) January 31, 2016
Bryan Barberena is the 5th fighter in UFC history to earn an arm triangle from half guard or full guard.— Michael Carroll (@MJCflipdascript) January 31, 2016
So does Barbarena get the big money or is he not tanned enough?— devon sawa (@DevonESawa) January 31, 2016
The fighters (h/t MMA Supremacy for compiling a list of fighters' reactions):
Can I say it was a weak tap??? Just freaking embarrassing, I'd retire my gloves effective immediately. https://t.co/XjwgUStXSA— Ben Askren (@Benaskren) January 31, 2016
Damn that choke was barely in! Hmmm— Michael Johnson (@FollowTheMenace) January 31, 2016
Omg he tap ??? And it was not tight enough. It wasn't the right side— Roan Jucao (@jucao) January 31, 2016
Lol...............in half guard— Lorenz Larkin (@da_MONSOON) January 31, 2016
It's probably a good thing Sage likes UFC Fight Pass so much.— Dann Stupp (@DannStupp) January 31, 2016
UFC misspelled Bryan Barberena's Twitter handle before that fight. Now, they're making a fan Q&A for him. Quite a difference one win makes.— Robert Sargent (@MMARising) January 31, 2016
Sage Northcutt standing in front of cat posters dot tumblr dot com— Scott Harris (@ScottHarrisMMA) January 31, 2016
How shocking that Barberena got a nice submission over a guy that was supposed to merc him and got no bonus. Shocking, I say!— Stephie (@CrooklynMMA) January 31, 2016
Sitting cageside watching girls throw their panties at Sage, then when he taps out they run down and retrieve them. DISLOYAL HARLOTS.— jim genia (@jim_genia) January 31, 2016
And some words of encouragement:
Sage is very athletic and very young. Seems to be just beginning in his grappling, he can be elite someday. This experience helps— Brian Stann (@BrianStann) January 31, 2016
Northcutt will undoubtedly learn from this experience, and he has all the physical abilities to make a serious run up the ranks as he matures physically, mentally and overall as a fighter. He has a lot to learn and a lot of time to accomplish all that he needs.
Now that he has lost, perhaps some pressure will be lifted as well and the UFC can pull the reins back a bit to allow him room to grow.
And when he returns, win or lose, perhaps Twitter won't react as harshly as it has following his first career loss.