Sage Northcutt Out, Eduard Folayang in Against Shinya Aoki at ONE on TNT IV

Sage Northcutt ONE Championship
Sage Northcutt VS Cosmo Alexandre Credit: ONE Championship

Sage Northcutt will not be making his return to action later this month after all.

ONE Championship officials have confirmed to Cageside Press that Northcutt is out of his ONE on TNT IV fight on April 28. Instead, former lightweight champion Eduard Folayang will step in against Shinya Aoki.

MMA Fighting was first to report the news.

Northcutt (11-3) has not competed since a brutal loss to Cosmo Alexandre in May 2019, his debut with the promotion following his exit from the UFC. The knockout saw him suffer multiple facial fractures, requiring extensive surgery.

Per a statement from the promotion, Northcutt could not be cleared to compete after contracting COVID-19 several months ago.

“Due to lingering COVID-19 issues, Sage Northcutt is not cleared by his doctors to compete on April 28 [at] ONE on TNT IV,” the promotion wrote. “This is disappointing for ONE, Turner, but most importantly Sage and his family as they were looking forward to this and spent months preparing. Sage had COVID a few months ago and was doing his best to get himself in a good place but late last week the doctor, during his final checks, could not clear him.”

Folayang (22-10) last competed in October 2020, losing a unanimous decision to Antonio Caruso. Aoki (46-9, 1NC), one of the most storied Japanese mixed martial artists, is currently on a three-fight win streak, with two submission finishes in that span.

ONE on TNT IV is headlined by a light heavyweight title fight between Aung La N Sang and Vitaly Bigdash. The two are tied in their career series with one win apiece.