The first 57 seconds of Sage Northcutt’s UFC career didn’t show much besides his imposing power and athleticism. He dominated Francisco Trevino and won via TKO early in the opening round.
But some were left questioning the legitimacy of Northcutt’s opponent and the fight’s stoppage.
Thursday was a different story.
Northcutt submitted Cody Pfister (12-5-1) by guillotine choke in the second round at Fight Night Las Vegas, the first of a three-day flurry of UFC events that ends with UFC 194: Aldo vs. McGregor on Saturday.
“This is fun for me,” Northcutt said. “It’s an honor to even be here right now, much less to have a fight so soon after my debut.”
This time, Northcutt, the UFC’s youngest fighter at 19 years old, was able to illustrate a game plan that he executed to perfection. Pfister shot out of the first round gunning for a takedown and took Northcutt to the mat. After three minutes of grappling, referee Mark Smith stood the fighters up – to the crowd’s disagreement – and the advantage tilted to Northcutt.
But he took the fight right back to the ground.
At the start of Round 2, Northcutt’s plan of attack became clear as he locked his opponent into a textbook guillotine choke after Pfister’s second attempt at a takedown.
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“I’m always trying to finish my opponent quickly and fast. I didn’t know the Octagon was going to be smaller but the fight went great,” said Northcutt, whose lack of awareness of the two different-sized Octagons signifies his relative inexperience in the sport.
More impressive than Northcutt’s impressive jiu-jitsu move to submit Pfister was his persona in between rounds.
While Pfister walked to his corner struggling for breath after Round 1, Northcutt looked unfazed and full of energy. He couldn’t even take the smile off his face before Smith waved them on to begin round 2.
When the action begins, a different Northcutt emerges. And when it ends, he’s back to the smiling, positive fighter with a YouTube-friendly front flip who continues to make waves in the lightweight division. It’s a magnetic combination, and one that is quickly garnering a large legion of fans for the charismatic Houston native.
Jon Gagnon is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com Follow him on Twitter at @jgagnonUFC