John Crouch “Knew” Bryan Barberena Would Beat Sage Northcutt, Coach Weighs-In on Fight Ending Choke
By Kelsey Mowatt
Since Sage Northcutt received plenty of promotional push and coverage in the last few months, some may have been surprised to see him lose last month. But the man who trains Bryan Barberena at The MMA Lab, John Crouch, says he knew “Bam Bam” would halt Northcutt’s rise.
Barberena was originally scheduled to fight Jonavin Webb later this month on February 21st, but after Andrew Holbrook was forced to withdraw from UFC on FOX 18, the Arizona fighter agreed to face Northcutt. In round two, the welterweight took Northcutt to the mat, and finished the highly touted prospect with an arm-triangle-choke.
“Bryan’s the consomate teammate; he’s one of those guys that we were all, very, very excited for him,” Crouch said on a recent episode of Full Contact Fighter Radio. “We thought he was going to win. I thought the whole time. I was kind of disappointed in myself afterwards that I was so excited, because I knew he was going to win. I thought it was a win the whole time.”
“So, I don’t think it’s that big of a win,” Crouch added. “I think that Sage is very young, he’s super talented and he seems like a really nice kid. I think it’s unfair, almost, all the pressure and attention that’s put on him you know? But I think this loss will help him. I think he’s going to go; if he goes to Tristar, he’s going to be a way better fighter, if he trains there and trains for real…I think it’s a win, and a win in the UFC for someone like Bryan Barberena is great, no matter who it’s against. For him to get a little sunshine, because it’s against Sage Northcutt, cool.”
After the bout, Northcutt was immediately scrutinized for tapping out to the choke while Barberena was in half-guard. Then, in the proceeding days, Northcutt reported he was battling strep throat, and that congestion he had contributed to the submission loss.
“I don’t think the tap had anything to do with strep throat,” said Crouch. “I think it was a good position, Bryan’s got a really good squeeze on that, and so that’s what it was. I’m sorry the kid didn’t feel 100%, but he should get used to it, because he’s never going to feel 100%. You’re always going to go into a fight with something wrong.
With the win, Barberena moved his UFC record to 2-1 and his overall record to 11-3.