Zak Ottow brings a lot to the table when he shows up to fight. He recently earned his black belt in BJJ, which he trained for nine years to acquire and has also shown off impressive boxing skills, which were showcased in an entertaining first round knockout of Mike Pyle at UFC 222. All this, coupled with impressive wrestling and takedowns, he should certainly feel confident in the run up to his next bout, which is scheduled to take place in Boise at UFC fight night 133.
“The Barbarian” had a shaky start to his UFC career, alternating wins and losses since his debut in 2016 when he claimed a split decision win over Josh Burkman (after coming in on short notice). He looks to put a stop to this and start his first ever win streak in the UFC against Sage Northcutt and speaking exclusively to MMAMotion, he sounds very confident about his most recent match-up.
Ottow spoke about some hardships that troubled him in the lead up the UFC 222. He refers to his fight with Li Jingliang in China (a fight in which he was disappointed with his efforts).
“After having so many split decisions, and [then] getting knocked out in the first [round] in China made me feel as though I needed this win, or my job would be on the line. I had managers and coaches saying that I needed this next one”
Whether the worst would have happened or not is unknown, but Ottow used this as motivation to put in the effort in the gym.
“I was eager to get back in [the cage], be more aggressive and go after the finish like I always did on a regional level. When I was being announced before that fight I knew it was my destiny is to win and then go home. I was going to prove to everyone that I belonged. After I got the win, I knelt in the Octagon and faced the matchmakers of the UFC, a way of saying to them I told you! The Barbarian is back!”.
Ottow feels that he has the momentum coming off this bout to carry on with his winning ways against Sage Northcutt on July 14. When asked he he felt the fight would go, Ottow made it clear around his intentions:
“The fight wont go past 2 rounds. A brutal KO or strangulation of some kind – either way his life will be in my hands and the referee will need to do his job”.
“The Barbarian” gives his opponent some credit ahead of their bout but ultimately, he is confident in his ability.
“His Karate techniques are good, he closes distance very well and is very explosive, but karate has too many holes. Along with that, he has a good, quick double leg, but to be honest, if he wants to grapple with me that’s his problem. In a karate point-scoring match, I would win 80% of the time, in MMA, real fighting, I win 100% of the time”
When asked how he felt regarding the hype around the Houston native, he said:
“He seems super weird to me in interviews, like, if I had kids I wouldn’t trust him to babysit, if you know what I mean. I don’t get the hype. He has been exposed before and now I’m going to close the lid on this.”
Regarding Northcutt returning to welterweight and his record so far in the UFC, Ottow said:
“Although he hasn’t won at welterweight, I don’t think it has anything to do with size. The quality of the fighter at 170 was simply better, and I feel this is the case once again. I have the experience on my side and I see holes everywhere, not only am I beating him up, I’m finishing him and getting a bonus. Down at 155 he has fought bottom of the roster guys and barely got past them, he is coming up against a bigger, more skilled fighter”
Some believe that Ottow is the perfect matchup for Northcutt, himself included. “When most people crumble under those pressure situations, I thrive.”.
Northcutt has only ever lost in the UFC by way of submission, and he is going up against someone with 10 submission wins on his professional record. And while “Super” has a stand-up game which is pleasing on the eye, it leaves many openings which can be exploited.
When asked about his training habits and training partners, Ottow refers to his home gym in Milwaukee:
“We have built a great team here with great coaches and we will soon be the best gym in the midwest, and the world will take notice. Lately I have found a little home away from home in Glendale, Arizona at the MMA Lab. I go there a couple times a year for the past several years. Coach Crouch has been a great mentor to me, but other than that, I have everything I need at my home gym in Milwaukee.”
Finally, when asked what he felt should be next for him given he gets the win in Boise, his answer was simple: “bring the UFC to Milwaukee, I’ll take anyone!”
Both men are coming off wins in their last outings, and both feel they still have a point to prove in the UFC. Who will take the win?