Sage Northcutt refutes ONE Championship’s ‘innacurate’ explanation for withdrawal from Shinya Aoki fight

Sage Northcutt isn’t on the same page as ONE Championship when it comes to his recent fight withdrawal.

“Super Sage” was supposed to fight Japanese MMA legend Shinya Aoki at a ONE event this past January. However, on fight day, it was announced that Northcutt had been forced to withdrawal due to “unforeseen circumstances with his cornermen,” according to the broadcast. Aoki went on to submit John Lineker, who stepped in for Northcutt at the last minute.

On Thursday, Northcutt took to social media to dispute ONE’s claims that the issue couldn’t have been avoided.

“ONE Championship is implying that I pulled out of the Shinya fight for unforeseen circumstances,” Northcutt wrote. “That is completely inaccurate. I sent ONE Championship the necessary paperwork they required to get my coaches visas 48 days ahead of the event. I was told by them over the phone and by text my main jiu-jitsu coach Fabio Prado did not need a visa since I paid for his airfare flights and trip so he was not classified as a working employee that needed a visa and that my other coach could get in as a tourist so he didn’t need one either.

“My coaches were there for almost a week, and I was not informed that two of them could not coach until hours before my match. I received a text from an unknown number that texted me for the first time that day that was a ticket salesman asking me about getting my two coaches complimentary tickets to watch my fight in the audience. I personally believe that ONE Championship was not going to inform me that my coaches were not allowed to corner me until I arrived at the arena to fight if I did not hear from a ticket salesman hours earlier.”

The fight with Aoki was to be just Northcutt’s second appearance with ONE. The 27-year-old returned to action this past May, defeating Ahmed Mujtaba in just 39 seconds via heel hook submission.

Aoki was to be the most decorated challenge of Northcutt’s career, but not only did the opportunity fall through, the fighter claims that his coaches were in danger of facing legal action because of ONE’s mismanagement.

“We were also told hours before my match that if my coaches violated the visa requirements and were caught on camera, they could be arrested and there was a 99.8 percent conviction rate on all arrests,” Northcutt wrote. “I made it clear to ONE Championship that I was not flying from America to Japan if I didn’t have my three coaches. I was told before I left to Japan by an executive that I would not have to fight without my coaches. They knew before I left that I would not be able to have two of my coaches. They never told me my coaches could be thrown in prison for any visa violation.”

Northcutt went on to write that “there has been a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes with ONE Championship with what caused me to withdraw from my last fight as well as other things,” noting “drug testing,” “weight cutting/policies,” “active athletes/roster” and the promotion’s “stability.”

MMA Fighting has reached out to Northcutt’s team and ONE Championship public relations for further comment.

See Northcutt’s Instagram post below.

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