Bryan Barberena: Sage Northcutt just making excuses, I win that fight every time

BY Damon Martin • February 2, 2016

When Bryan Barberena accepted his fight with Sage Northcutt on a week's notice, he knew he wasn't at his very best with only a matter of days to prepare but he was more than happy to accept the challenge even if he wasn't 100 percent.

Whether he was at his peak or not, Barberena still performed and ultimately tapped Northcutt out with an arm triangle choke in the second round to get his second UFC win while handing the 19-year-old prodigy his first professional loss.

Just two days after the fight was over, Northcutt revealed in an interview that he was allegedly suffering from strep throat and had to go to an emergency clinic before actually facing Barberena in the Octagon.

Whether intentional or not, Northcutt's admission that he was sick seemingly sounded like an excuse for his loss and that doesn't sit well with Barberena, who defeated him this past Saturday night.

"Everybody goes into a fight with something," Barberena told FOX Sports on Tuesday. "I'm not the type of person to say what I go into the fights with and I won't be. It is what it is, whether you have something or not, you chose to be in there. You chose to perform at your best ability even with something going on. For him to come out and say he was sick and he couldn't breathe and that's why I got the choke — he couldn't breathe because I was choking him.

"That's it. He couldn't breathe because I was choking him. He can make all the excuses he wants. Any night, any day, I win that fight. Eleven out of 10 times. Every time."

Barberena was understandably upset after hearing Northcutt's comments claiming illness prevented him from performing at his best on the night of the fight.

The irritation only grew after hearing that Northcutt had a choice of possible replacements given to him from the UFC and his team ultimately opted for Barberena for the fight. He accepted and got the job done but now it seems like Northcutt is trying to take away from his victory.

"I heard that he got a list of names and they decided to pick me. I'm the guy that they wanted," Barberena said. "Out of all the names that they got, they decided they wanted me. So his camp thought they could beat me, but I proved that wrong and I'll prove it wrong over and over again."

As far as the fight goes, Barberena admits that he's traditionally a slow starter and that might have played a part in a back-and-forth first round with Northcutt. Once Barberena was warmed up, however, he took over in the second round after a slip from his opponent put them on the ground where he opened up a barrage of punches and elbows from inside Northcutt's guard.

"I'm not scared to stand up with anybody," Barberena said. "I would have stood up with him the whole fight. It just happened to be he was falling down on that somersault kick and ended up on his back, so the opportunity was there. I might as well take it. He just wanted to hold onto me. He just wanted to get a stand up.

"I wanted to work and I wanted to punish him. I felt my shots were landing cleanly and he didn't like it. It was only a matter of time before I was going to TKO him or he was going to give me the opportunity to submit him. It happened to be the submission so I took it."

Barberena wrapped up the arm triangle choke a short time later to get the submission victory although some have criticized Northcutt for panicking or simply not knowing how to get out of the position to escape so he tapped.

As perturbed as Barberena was with Northcutt's explanation for losing, he actually says the choke was on tight and that wasn't the first person he's submitted from that same position.

"I felt like going through the fight, he didn't want to be in there more and more," Barberena said. "As far as the choke goes, when I latched it on at first I knew I didn't have a great bite at first, but then I slid up and it got tighter and I have a really good bite from that position, the head and arm period, and from guard I've put people to sleep. I've tapped people from the same position. People can't take the shoulder pressure that I put on them."

In the days since the fight, Barberena has heard far more about Northcutt's loss than he has his own win and that's admittedly a little upsetting but he's hoping that this moment in the spotlight will eventually translate to a bigger opportunity in the UFC.

As for Northcutt's alleged illness, Barberena is never going to be OK with his decision to reveal that after the fight where it looks like it's taking away from his victory.

"I just shake my head about it. It's ridiculous," Barberena said. "He has a lot to learn. People are giving me a ton of crap, too, surprisingly. It's more about him than me winning. I have tons of haters coming at me, too. I welcome it. It makes me laugh.

"I'm going to sit down and talk with the UFC and hopefully get a high-profile fight. You put me in those tough situations, that's when I shine the best. I'm ready for anybody."