Sage Northcutt withdraws from ONE on TNT IV bout vs. Shinya Aoki; Eduard Folayang steps in

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Farah Hannoun
·1 min read
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Sage Northcutt’s highly anticipated return to ONE Championship has been delayed.

Northcutt (11-3) is out of his April 28 welterweight fight vs. Shinya Aoki (46-9) at ONE on TNT IV due to lingering effects from COVID-19, officials announced on Monday morning after an initial report from ESPN.

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Northcutt, who tested positive for COVID-19 in January, hasn’t competed since May 2019 when he suffered a 29-second knockout to kickboxer Cosmo Alexandre at ONE Championship 96. The damage sustained in the knockout loss to Alexandre was heavy, forcing Northcutt to undergo surgery to repair eight facial fractures.

Stepping in for Northcutt to face Aoki will be Eduard Folayang (22-10), who was scheduled to fight Yoshihiro Akiyama on the same card, but Akiyama was forced out due to injury.

Aoki and Folayang have already competed against each other twice, splitting their two appearances. Folayang captured the ONE lightweight title from Aoki in November 2016 when he scored a third-round TKO win. But Aoki exacted his revenge less than three years later when he took his title back by submitting Folayang in the first round at ONE Championship 92 in March 2019.

Aoki would go on to lose his title to Christian Lee, but has since won three straight, most recently submitting James Nakashima in the first round in January. Meanwhile, Folayang dropped four of his past five, including stoppage losses to Aoki and former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez.