Northcutt (12-3) will take on Aoki (47-11) in two months as part of ONE Championship 165 at Ariake Arena in Tokyo. Promotion officials announced the Jan. 28 matchup Wednesday on social media and said the fight will be Aoki’s last with ONE. ESPN first reported the matchup.
IT’S ON 😤 Japanese legend Shinya Aoki competes for the final time in ONE against American superstar Sage Northcutt on January 28 in Tokyo! 👊💥 @a_ok_i @sagenorthcutt #ONE165 | January 28 at 6PM JST
🎟️ Tickets 👉 https://t.co/9BTfk5i7f8
🌍 Global broadcast details coming soon pic.twitter.com/x3yZA4opEI
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) November 30, 2023
The 27-year-old Northcutt, from the Dallas area, was supposed to fight Aoki, 40, in April 2021. That fight was about two years after his ONE debut, which was a shocking 29-second KO loss to Cosmo Alexandre that came on the heels of his free agency move to the promotion after a 6-2 run in the UFC. But lingering effects from COVID-19 kept Northcutt sidelined, and it was more than another two years later before he had his next fight.
Northcutt submitted Ahmed Mujtaba in 39 seconds in May for his first ONE win and first victory at all since July 2018. He was one of the hottest prospects in the sport’s history when he signed with the UFC in 2015, and he made $40,000 to show with a $40,000 win bonus in just his second fight in the promotion – rare for a young fighter on his first deal with the UFC.
Aoki will fight in front of his home fans in Tokyo one final time. Currently on a two-fight skid, the legendary Japanese grappling wiz was on an 8-1 run prior to that. His resume is littered with bona fides, among them two ONE lightweight titles, the DREAM lightweight title and the Shooto Japan middleweight title.
Of Aoki’s 47 total wins, 30 have been by submission. That was Northcutt’s weakness in his first two setbacks in 2016 to Bryan Barberena and Mickey Gall, both of whom were able to choke out Northcutt. Although he’s fought primarily for ONE the past 10 years, his extensive experience also includes fights under the Rizin banner, Bellator, Strikeforce and Pride.