Lightweight 19-year-old college freshman Sage Northcutt has dreamed of fighting in the UFC since he started training martial arts with his father as a little boy. Earlier this month, at UFC 192, that fantasy came true after years of hard work.
And guess what? It was even cooler than Sage imagined it would be.
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"It was way better than what I dreamed of," he said on the latest FOX Sports "It's Time" podcast with Bruce Buffer and TJ DeSantis.
Northcutt used his warmup time to get amped to fight the bout he would eventually win in just 57 seconds. "When I was in the back, getting ready and warming up to go out there and fight, I was just having a great time," he insisted.
"When I got to walk out into the Octagon, I was just soaking up everything . . . When I actually got in the Octagon, I was pumped up and ready. I wasn't nervous, even a little bit. But, you get the butterflies in your stomach, and that's just you being pumped up and ready to go, ready to fight."
Then, it got even better as he got to hear the veteran ring announcer Buffer call out his name in front of his hometown audience. "Having [UFC Octagon ring announcer Bruce Buffer] call out my name, that was even cooler than being on TV," he gushed.
With his first UFC win out of the way, Northcutt is ramping down school and focusing on his MMA career. He said that he's taking in all of the pressure, and focusing on the positive.
"I feel everything that you're talking about, everything that people say. I actually don't look at any of the negative stuff, so I'm sure that helps out, big time. I try not to hear anything negative about me and if I do hear it, I try to block it out," he explained.
"There's always going to be people saying negative and positive things. If you let all that into you, and you're always contemplating that, and thinking about that, I'm sure that can get to you. I try not to do that."
As for living up to all the hype? Well, it is precisely what Northcutt has been preparing for his entire young life.
"Sure, there's a lot of hype going around, but I've looked forward to all this hype since I was a little kid," he concluded.
"This is what I've trained for, so I feel like I'm ready for it, and I'm looking forward to more of it."