All week, the buildup about UFC Fight Night: Namajunas vs. VanZant had been for the "Paige and Sage Show." For a moment, it almost seemed as though Sage Northcutt's hype train would be derailed by Cody Pfister.
Pfister took Northcutt (7-0) down early in the first round. He kept "Super" Sage grounded for a few minutes and smashed him with some hammerfists and elbows until there was a sudden stand up from referee Mark Smith. Soon after they were reset, Northcutt nailed Pfister (12-5-1) with a takedown of his own and went for an arm-triangle at the end of the round.
In a post-fight interview with media at The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan, Northcutt said he knew Pfister would go for the takedown.
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"I was just kind of relaxing there and letting [Pfister] wear himself out," Northcutt said.
As for the inexplicable stand up in the midst of the round, Northcutt maintained his usual jubilant demeanor about the somewhat controversial call.
"I think the referee's smart with how he does it. I had [Pfister's] hands trapped at the time so he was having a hard time trying to do anything. It wasn't my decision to stand us up. I think the referee made a good call in my eyes. I think the referee knows what he's doing."
In the second frame, Northcutt rebounded from the adversity and was able to finish Pfister with a guillotine choke. It was the first submission win of his UFC career and another victory to keep his star rising. But has the 19-year-old sensation silenced any doubters he may have? That's something Northcutt thinks will come as he continues to prove himself.
"I think that every single fight you have is to prove yourself. Even if you're the world champion, the UFC champion of the world, you're still proving yourself, people are coming to beat you" Northcutt said. "Every single fight you have, every time you step into the Octagon, you have to prove yourself."
After two fights in the Octagon in a little over two months, Northcutt said he'd be ready for another quick turnaround if need be. Ideally, he'd like to fight before he celebrates his 20th birthday on March 1st.