Though he was in good spirits and shooting baskets just days after his first professional loss, Sage Northcutt says he went into his fight against Bryan Barberena sick with strep throat. He didn’t consider pulling out of the fight, but UFC president Dana White now says that he himself should have squashed the contest.
"He’s 19 years old … " White told BigBoy TV, this week.
"He fought three times in (four) months — I should have pulled him."
Northcutt, his team and the UFC have been in a huge hurry to push him into the cage and in front of the fans as much as possible since this past fall. It backfired on Saturday, but at least White seems to now realize the mistake.
It needn’t have taken a loss to see that the kid is being rushed. Even if Sage had managed to win, an inexperienced teenager fighting so often in the big leagues while also enrolled in college isn’t best for his health or skill development.
Northcutt and his team insisted on pressing last week, however. "The kid really wanted to fight and I let him fight and he was sick as hell. I blew it," White continued.
"I blew that one so bad. The kid was super sick and he still wanted to fight. His father said, ‘Listen, we still want to take this fight, we want to take this fight.’ I should have pulled the kid from the fight."