Sage Northcutt explains why he appeared to tap out so easily in his first UFC loss

Sage Northcutt was not expected to lose on Saturday night at UFC on Fox 18, but when he tapped to an arm bar in half guard, people had plenty of questions about what went on. 

Northcutt suffered the first defeat of his professional career, and became a subject of discussion for a number of fighters, who questioned what had gone wrong for the 19-year-old.

Speaking on the MMA Hour to Ariel Helwani, he revealed that while he didn’t want to make excuses for his poor performance,he had been battling illness in the build up to the fight and was suffering from strep throat.

“Two days before my fight, I had a real bad relapse of the strep throat and I had to go to the emergency ready clinic. The UFC had to take me, then [a doctor] with the UFC had to write a prescription for more antibiotics, stuff like that. So I really couldn’t explain how I felt out there. I felt really horrible”.

He added that he wasn’t himself in the octagon and was having a hard time breathing, which may go some way to explaining why he seemed to tap in an unconventional position.

“The thing was,” added Northcutt, “[I was] having a hard time breathing and having a mouthpiece in … when he was on top of me, having his shoulder, I guess, in my throat for that – I know it wasn’t like a traditional head and arm choke from side control where you get to apply the same kind of pressure – but just being able to have your jaw shut and then trying to breathe through your nose for this time during the fight, I was so congested, to tell you the truth, that I couldn’t even breathe, much less stand up really”.

He also stated that it felt like he was “breathing through a straw”, which meant “that it was just as tight as what it might have been” if the hold had been locked in from full mount.

He added that he felt as though he’d let himself and the UFC down, but that pulling out of the fight wasn’t an option that crossed his mind at any stage:

“You don’t want to pull out and have that ruin the outcome of the event for the amount of people that came to support you and watch you and everything. That wouldn’t have been good, and obviously you never want to pull out of that. At least I wouldn’t”.