It's so often the case in sports that you learn more from your losses than you do from your wins, and for martial arts sensation Sage rthcutt, that certainly seems to be the case. The young prodigy has had more than enough success from a very young age, but after a devastating loss during a debut ONE Championship bout against Cosmo Alexandre in 2019, rthcutt was forced to withdraw from the competition in what became an ordeal four years in the waiting .
w 'Super' Sage rthcutt is back and, in an exclusive chat with M&F, explains he's learning from his mistakes to dominate again.
It's hard to believe that rthcutt has achieved so much and is still only 27 years old. The young upstart from Katy, TX learned karate at the tender age of 4 and became a black belt at a young age. "Man, it's hard to remember because I was so young, but I think it was like 7 years old," he says of the performance. “That was a huge success for me. I had my sister (next to me) who did martial arts, she was 7 when she started and she got her black belt and I got mine. We stuck together, kind of a family thing, and continued to do martial arts.”
Indeed, rthcutt's father; Mark is also a black belt and has served as Sage's head coach during his already distinguished career as an athlete. His sister Colbey is an amateur kickboxing champion who also switched to MMA, and younger brother Kai follows closely in his siblings' footsteps. At 15, Sage was inducted into Black Belt Magazine's Hall of Fame, and at 19, he became the youngest person to ever be on the cover of Sport Karate Magazine. With a "super" record like rthcutt's, it's not hard to see why he deserved these accolades. He has won 77 junior championships in karate and holds an unbeaten record in kickboxing.
Sage rthcutt draws on a variety of disciplines to fight in MMA
"I wrestled in high school," says rthcutt, as if he doesn't already have his hands full with martial arts. “Mostly only in my senior year. In ninth and tenth grade, I traveled the world competing on national teams in kickboxing and karate, so my focus back then was pretty much hitting, but then towards the end of high school, that's when I got into wrestling. I won the district wrestling championship, went to the region and placed top five in the state (Texas), and then I started mixing all the pieces together to fight in MMA.
When rthcutt made his UFC debut, he had a professional record of 5-0 at just 19 years old. "Something crazy... on top of that, I've never been to a UFC event as far as I can remember," he says. "So the first UFC event I actually attended was the very first event I fight in." Incredibly, rthcutt defeated Francisco Trevino by TKO in that debut, earning the victory in just 57 seconds. From 2015 to 2018 he scored 6 wins and suffered 2 losses before signing with ONE Championship. Here, however, his debut proved to be a career-changing match as rthcutt was eliminated in the first round, leaving the fighter with multiple facial fractures.
"I've been trying to get better for about a year, but I think the biggest thing was that I don't like sitting around and doing nothing," shares rthcutt. "So I was trying to get out (and) running, trying to shadow boxes, you know, and the heavy bag. I've been trying to do weights (and) do my cardio, that's been the greatest. I think sitting around doing nothing was very hard for me.”
Wise rthcutt earns wisdom in defeat
With so many wins under his belt, rthcutt has found that there is often more information when you are on the losing side. "You know, that was a mistake," he says openly about the first gig with ONE. "I was fighting at 155 pounds, (and then) at 170 pounds (in), I fought my last fight in the UFC and went up a weight class. Then I signed with ONE Championship and went up to 185.” rthcutt now understands that moving from 155 to 185 pounds was a massive change. “It was a learning experience for me and this weight class was a very, very big weight class. I think for my build, my body weight... close to 170 would be a good weight class for me.” On May 5th at ONE Fight Night 10, rthcutt will get a chance to put that theory to the test when he returns to the Lightweight class meets Ahmed Mujaba (10-2-0).
rthcutt, who has been fit all his life, has not let himself fall out of shape in all that time. "Well, when I was young, when I was four or five years old, I was already doing 250 sit-ups and push-ups every day, pretty much," says the top athlete. By the time he was 7, that number increased exponentially; between 500-700. rthcutt says he first started lifting weights when he was about 11 years old. When he was able to return to the gym after losing to Cosmo Alexandre, he did so with great enthusiasm and reignited his passion for pumping iron. "I feel like I really wanted to get back out there," he says.
Sage rthcutt cheers for success
"I eat 2,000 to 2,500 calories from carbs alone, which is crazy," says rthcutt, who currently eats more than 4,000 calories a day while staying muscular and lean. The fighter is sponsored by Trifecta and says a significant number of his meals come from the company. rthcutt is a big fan of grass-fed steaks, but explains that now that he's getting closer to ONE Fight Night 10, he's switching from heavy meat to other protein sources like salmon and eggs. "Most people[try]to eat a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, but for me it's pretty much double that," says the recurring star. "I think it comes down to how much exercise, cardio and training I do." rthcutt also takes his gut health and nutritional needs seriously. He eats lots of vegetables, including sauerkraut, which is a great source of fiber and vitamins C and K, along with iron and manganese. This fermented sauerkraut is also said to balance the gut microbiome and boost the immune system. Through another of his sponsors, Redcon1, he supplements glutamine and amino acids.
The returning warrior is looking forward to returning to active MMA competition as ONE Fight Night 10 will be held in his home country, with the event taking place at 1st Bank Center in Denver, CO. "I'm super excited," he says. “Because it's ONE's first event in the US, I got my US fans involved and folks overseas will be tuning in. I'm looking forward to this fight.”
How to watch ONE Fight Night 10
The full show, featuring Johnson vs. Moraes III in the main event, will air May 5 on Prime Video with a local start time of 6pm MDT. For more information on ONE Championship, visit: onefc.com.