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Too Fast Too Furious: Are Newer Fighters Done before They Even Begin?

If someone were to sum up the reasons why some of these newer prospects fail to meet expectations, it comes down to having too much coming too fast. Simple as that. Up-and-coming prospects such as James Gallagher, Sage Northcutt and Aaron Pico, despite their hype, are largely journeyman fighters at this point in their careers.

James Gallagher



A post shared by James gallagher (@strabanimalmma) on Jun 28, 2019 at 4:04am PDT

In the case of James Gallagher (9-1), he has not been lighting the fight world on fire as hoped. Despite this very dominant record, fans expected more from the man hail from SBG; the same training team as Conor McGregor. His only loss comes from a first round headkick from Ricky Banderas. Gallagher has finishes to his name with a few decision victories. He currently has a fight slated with Cal Ellenor. Despite his knockout loss derailing his growing hype train, Gallagher has a strong record and poses a threat to a lot fighters within Bellator’s organization. 

This overreaction to fighters taking a loss can be fueled by the needs of many promoters to have marketable fighters.

Sage Northcutt



A post shared by Super Sage Northcutt (@supersagenorthcutt) on Jun 6, 2019 at 3:58pm PDT

For Northcutt, the caliber of fighters he has met recently is climbing faster than his professional development. In his amateur and early professional career, Northcutt moved at a consistent pace with contenders in his run with Legacy. When Sage got to the UFC, he began to run into trouble. Even after his initial victories against Francisco Trevino and Cody Pfister, a loss against Bryan Barbarena with a seemingly loose arm triangle and a submission loss to Mickey Gall started to raise doubts about Northcutt’s skill. His next three wins included two decisions that fell short of fan expectations. 

Sage Northcutt was then cut from the UFC and signed a deal with ONE. Months later he would make his debut in the promotion against Alexandre Cosmo which in ended in a devastating defeat within 30 seconds of the first round. The punch Northcutt took from the professional kickboxer required him to have surgery on his face due to broken bones. Some fans suspected the fight was a mismatch before it even happened and cited ONE’s desire to benefit from Northcutt’s star power as a reason he was put against a fighter above his pedigree. However, this is not a singular factor. 

Some would also make the point that Northcutt has plateaued with his development and not growing in his abilities as fast as he should be. This may be due to past issues with solidifying fight camps and trainers. To a degree, development can be a factor but perhaps not as big as people think since little things in or taking place around training camp can occur. Much of which the public may or may not learn about. 

Erick Silva



A post shared by ε૨เ૮ҡ “a Fierce Tiger” รเℓѵα (@ericksilvamma) on Dec 18, 2018 at 8:11am PST

When Erick Silva was a newcomer to the UFC, he put together some impressive wins over Luis Ramos, Charlie Brennamen and Jason High and a Fight of the Night honor while losing a decision to Jon Fitch. Some thought he could be a contender for the welterweight title in the UFC. But after defeating Josh Koscheck, Silva’s began to rack up losses and currently has lost 6 of his last 8 fights.

Silva’s performances in some of his losing fights show him visibly getting gassed and slowing down his pace. Sometimes making sloppy movements as the match continues. Those issues can be blamed on an incomplete fight camp or even a bad weight cut. Although, Silva has gone against some high level competition like Matt Brown and Neil Magny, his record does not live up to the expectations that followed him after his UFC debut. And sometimes that is how some careers play out. Some careers can be the luck of the draw when it comes to opponents.

Aaron Pico



A post shared by Aaron Pico (@aaronpicousa) on Jun 9, 2019 at 10:05am PDT

For Aaron Pico(4-3), the luck of the draw might be the reason for his troubles. “El Matador” was expected to have a leg-up on the competition in Bellator with his deep roots in boxing and wrestling from a young age. In his last two fights, he was knocked out with a flying knee and a hook punch. Perhaps these losses could attributed by Adam Borics’s 11-Fight experience level and Henry Corrales’s 19-Fight experience in MMA prior to their matches with Pico. Bellator has a tendency to create matches that put relative newcomers against more experienced fighters. But it’s just like the point made in the beginning which is having too much coming too fast.

While promotions try to give the favor of higher ranked opponents to attention-grabbing prospects, they may be doing those newer prospects a disservice. Fighters require time to develop and many great such as Jacare Souza, Cris Cyborg and Renan Barao lost their MMA debuts. Some early losses aren’t a sign that fighters don’t have what it takes, but rather indicators of how their fighting styles must be tuned.■

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