Sage Northcutt Details Love Of California Outdoors, Recalls Terrifying Encounter With A Bear

Sage Northcutt Ahmed Mujtaba ONE Fight Night 10 20

When he’s not in the training room, American MMA sensation “Super” Sage Northcutt finds a welcome escape in the great outdoors.

Next, the 27-year-old will return to action against former ONE Lightweight MMA World Champion Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki this Sunday at ONE 165: Superlek vs. Takeru in Tokyo – arguably the biggest matchup of his 15-fight professional career.

Ahead of that pivotal lightweight MMA showdown at the Ariake Arena, Northcutt is maintaining a laser-like focus on how to beat the legendary Japanese submission ace, finishing up his training camp at the famed Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California.

And on the few days off he allows himself, “Super” Sage likes to explore the incredibly diverse landscape and wildlife of the state.

He told

“Yeah, that’s what’s cool about California. You’ve got so much diversity. You can go to the mountains, you can go to the beach, you can go do so many different things.”

From hiking to off-roading to simply taking in the calming sights and sounds of nature, Northcutt is a true outdoor enthusiast.

Since moving from Texas to California years ago, he has come to appreciate all the opportunities for exploration around him – all within driving distance.

And while he certainly enjoys relaxing on the Pacific coast beaches, he says that one of his favorite adrenaline-filled pastimes is racing around a wide-open desert:

“There’s a spot like Death Valley, which is straight-up desert. If you have the kind of vehicle for it, you can take a truck and just go really fast through dunes and through the sand.

“You have so much variety of stuff from desert to mountains to rivers and snow. You got the beach. You got pretty much everything. It’s pretty nice.”

A decorated Karate World Champion and an elite professional mixed martial artist since his teenage years, Northcutt is deeply dedicated to his craft. 

But to maintain that unwavering dedication day in and day out, he needs a way to recharge his batteries for the next grueling training session.

That’s where his love for the outdoors comes in:

“Training MMA, obviously, it’s your focus. You’re going to have a good time, of course. It’s something you love, but going out hiking, going out off-roading, doing those kinds of things, you kind of get your mind off stuff, and you can kind of just go out and relax. It’s relaxing. 

“It’s kind of nice being away from social media, being away from everybody, being away from the city, and just getting to go out by yourself, and that’s also a good time to focus, too.”

‘I Hid Behind The Waterfall Like Rambo’

Sage Northcutt knows firsthand that while nature can be relaxing, untamed wildlife can create some pretty treacherous situations.

He recalled one specific experience that happened years ago outside of California’s picturesque Lake Tahoe:

“There’s been some crazy moments. Like, I went up to this spot on the way to Tahoe. It was years back actually. It’s a 100-foot waterfall, and I off-roaded out there. I kind of climb up the rocks to get around it. I was by myself, first time exploring it. I probably should brought some friends, or at least brought a knife or something [laughs].”

As “Super” Sage was finishing up his solo excursion, he heard something that froze him in his tracks:

“The sun was setting. I’m walking back, and I had several miles to walk back. Everything got really quiet, and then I heard this noise. This was years back when I first got to California. I didn’t know too much about bears.”

Not wanting to be a hungry bear’s next meal, Northcutt hunkered down in the only spot he felt safe – behind a waterfall.

Like a scene from an action movie, he spent the next several critical minutes remaining hidden and deathly still:

“I didn’t see anything, but I heard something pretty serious. So I hid behind the waterfall. It was freezing water. Super cold. I hid behind the waterfall like Rambo, and I was behind the waterfall for maybe 15 minutes straight. The sun was going down, it was getting dark, and I had no cell service.”

With night rapidly approaching, the young fighter was running out of options. If he waited until dark, he might just become even easier prey.

Before long, Northcutt’s survival instincts kicked in, and he ran like his life depended on it – because it may have – all the way back to safety:

“I waited, and then all of a sudden, I looked out. I was looking around, like, “I think I’m good.” I just sprinted. I don’t even know how many miles it was. It was probably a couple of miles.

“As fast as I can go, probably the hardest cardio I’ve done, and just made it to my truck and I left. But that was pretty memorable. I don’t think I’m going to forget that.”

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