Sage Northcutt will not be making his return this month.
MMA Fighting confirmed with ONE Championship officials that Northcutt has been forced to withdraw from his upcoming 170-pound bout with Shinya Aoki (46-9, 1 NC) at the April 28 ONE on TNT event due to lingering COVID-19 symptoms. Stepping in for Northcutt will be Eduard Folayang (22-10).
Northcutt’s father Mark told MMA Fighting that one of Northcutt’s symptoms is that he is dealing with blood clots.
His withdrawal and the new matchup were first reported by ESPN and have since been officially announced by ONE:
🤯 LEGEND VS. LEGEND TRILOGY 🤯
Shinya Aoki will now face Eduard Folayang in the final chapter of their historic rivalry on 28 April! 💥 @a_ok_i @efolayang #WeAreONE #ONEChampionship #ONEonTNT4 pic.twitter.com/v8HClJw49m
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) April 12, 2021
Northcutt was set to compete for the first time in almost two years after losing his ONE debut by knockout to Cosmo Alexandre in just 29 seconds. The brutal finish left Northcutt with multiple facial fractures and he was unable to book a fight for several months. He recently told MMA Fighting that COVID-19 restrictions also delayed his return to competition.
This will be the third meeting between Aoki and Folayang, who was reportedly set to face Yoshihiro Akiyama on April 28 before “Sexyama” withdrew due to an injury. Aoki and Folayang each hold a win over one another, with Folayang defeating Aoki by third-round TKO in November 2016, and Aoki avenging that loss in March 2019 by first-round technical submission via an arm-triangle choke.
The April 28 ONE on TNT main card will air on tape-delay in the U.S. at 10 p.m. ET.
Guilherme Cruz contributed to this report.