UFC on Fox 18 opened with an upset that sends one of the UFC’s most hyped fighters back to the drawing board.
Sage Northcutt looked super early against Bryan Barberena, knocking him down with a punch, taking him down several times, and grabbing his back hoping for a submission to develop. But the unheralded Barbarena mounted the 19-year-old welterweight in the final minute and answered his punches standing with hard overhand rights.
Barbarena captured top position early in round two. He rained down hard elbows and forearms, for which Northcutt offered no answer. The blown-up lightweight, fighting on eight-days notice, transitioned into an arm-triangle choke, which quickly convinced Northcutt to tap.
Northcutt’s sensational karate and all-American, beach-body look made him a star at 19. The UFC booked him for three fights in his first four months active in the promotion. But like Paige VanZant failing badly against Rose Namajunas last month, Northcutt’s loss damages one of the most marketable young fighters in the promotion.
“It feels great to beat a guy with that hype, but I have my own hype behind me,” Barberena explained after the victory. “My family, friends and teammates all believed and knew I could do it. This is something I practice in the training room. I felt like he was slipping in tighter and I knew he was going to tap. I want to thank my camp, the MMA Lab. We came, we dominated!”
Barberena moves to 11-3 and Northcutt drops to 7-1 a month away from his twentieth birthday.