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The Building of Colbey Northcutt: ONE’s American Dream

To kick off the main card of ONE Championship 104: Edge of Greatness, Colbey Northcutt faced off against Putri Padmi. It seems like business as usual in the world professional fighting matching two fighters with similar records but there’s a strong argument that there’s more going on here.

First of all, the name that makes this match so intriguing is the name Northcutt. Colbey is the sister of ONE competitor and former UFC veteran, Sage Northcutt. Their family’s mark in the martial arts community is well-known in Texas and all over the US; creating high expectations when either sibling steps in the cage. Colbey’s long development as a karate and kickboxing champ along with her amount of time in the amateur MMA circuit has made her striking ability crisp and her submission grappling very efficient.

A post shared by Colbey Northcutt Daniels (@colbeynorthcutt) on Nov 24, 2019 at 12:39pm PST

Her opponent, Putri Padmi, is a very interesting choice to match with Northcutt. On the surface, things look normal with both fighters came into the match with a 0-1 professional record. But even going back to amateur matches years ago, Northcutt has very proficient fighting abilities. If anyone watches the Padmi’s first fight in ONE against Dwi Ani Retno Wulan, Padmi looks well………. very unimpressive. 

The only thing that was impressive to Putri Padmi’s fighting style is her ability to take punishment and continue to stalk forward; a skill that’s great in bare knuckle boxing but looks bad on the judge’s scorecard. To Padmi’s credit, you can see her genuine love for fighting with the heart she shows in the cage and her random smiles in between exchanges. But anybody analyzing both Northcutt and Padmi saw the exact fight they were expecting with a win for Northcutt. The most surprising part was the fact that Padmi didn’t get finished. She was able to take an array of punches and kicks in all three rounds and somehow survived at least five very deep submission attempts.

A post shared by Colbey Northcutt Daniels (@colbeynorthcutt) on Nov 23, 2019 at 3:55pm PST

With Northcutt’s decision victory, she improves to a 1-1 record. The question is whether or not this fight arranged so Northcutt could have a win.

Of course, I don’t mean the fight was fixed. What I mean is that the match was made with the mindset that Colbey Northcutt would have an easy win. Organizations and managers have made matches to “pad” a certain fighters record  or make “tune-up” fights for fighters with losses or long lay-offs. I mean, the people who run the sport aren’t blind. They can watch fighters and make assessments just like experts and fans. 

Promoters being able to make judgments from observing fighters gives them the ability to make compelling matchups. If the UFC made Ben Askren, a former champ from another promotion, start from the bottom of the welterweight roster, there would just be gross mismatches for guys who’ve had seven fights total in their careers. Match makers with ONE could probably see that Northcutt and Padmi were mismatch for each other and purposely booked the match. Which is surprising from an organization that stresses “integrity, humility, honor, respect, courage, discipline and compassion.” But Charti Sityodtong is not ignorant to the ways of business. People all over the world know that making money can often conflict with  things like integrity, honor and respect. 

On top of that, ONE Championship actually has a motive for doing this with Northcutt… penetrating the American market.

It’s very clear that ONE has been trying to hammer a stake into the western MMA world with various fighter acquisitions, the deal with Turner (TNT and B/R Live) and the Ben Askren-Demetrious Johnson promotional trade. Some would say the inter promotion trade was a win-win situation for both the ONE and the UFC since with ONE having an American champion in Johnson and UFC “proving” its point of having top tier fighters with Askren’s 1-2 record in the organization. But it’s clear that ONE wants the number 1, if not, number 2 spot as the world’s premier MMA organization. For that to happen, you have to make a stamp in the country that’s defined by the mainstream…. the USA. 

A post shared by ONE Championship (@onechampionship) on Dec 1, 2019 at 5:00am PST

Going forward, ONE will be sure to give Northcutt some more fights in order to build her brand. These future fights will most likely not be cakewalks since she will be wading further into more competitive matches. A promotion can only help so much if they are trying to build her. But with Northcutt’s name, they can make cards that appeal to American audiences. More importantly, the promotion can make itself more attractive for more American (possibly Canadian, Caribbean or Latin American) fighters to join the promotion; therefore giving more of their fans reason to watch ONE events. All the while, making it easier for these western audiences to watch these events with outlets like TNT and B/R Live. 

I could be wrong about this entire tin foil rant about Colbey Northcutt getting a pad-record fight. After all, the promotion could have been just trying to do the right thing about matching to fighters with an 0-1 record. But I wouldn’t be surprised if ONE Championship begins to promote the Northcutt siblings like they have done with the Lee siblings with the intent of getting more American eyes on the organization. ▪︎

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