Photo via Zak Ottow Instagram

UFC Boise: Zak Ottow aiming for “relentless” performance against Sage Northcutt

On Saturday evening, Zak Ottow (16-5, 3-2) will partake in the biggest fight of his mixed martial arts career. The Wisconsinite has somewhat snuck under the radar thus far in his UFC tenure, but fans are finally starting to give Ottow the credit he deserves.

Though he isn’t one to usually pay attention to public opinion, Ottow doesn’t shy away from saying he appreciates the recent support.

“Fans in MMA can be the best fans in the world and they can also be pretty brutal,” laughed Ottow in an interview with MMA Today. “So I try not to read any reviews or comments or anything like that. Usually, it’s pretty positive.”

“That’s my goal: to do my very best in this sport, make as much money as I can, and then get out,” continued Ottow. “Having a lot of fans is going to help you do that. And getting finishes is going to help you create a lot of fans. Obviously getting wins over bigger names and getting those finishes is going to put me into position to get better and better fights.”

Just as Ottow says, succeeding in big opportunities leads to doors opening for even larger opportunities. In his last bout, he defeated longtime UFC veteran Mike Pyle via first round knockout. Extra eyes were on the fight, as just days prior, Pyle announced his plans to retire after the bout.

“[It went] pretty much as planned — getting the TKO in the first round,” said Ottow. “It was set up totally different than what I thought it would have been. We had seen some film on Mike Pyle and the way he exits. He’s a little bit more susceptible to the power shots and we took advantage of that.”

“He was exiting too well with a high guard,” continued Ottow. “He wasn’t giving me enough back or opening up enough. The first couple minutes he didn’t really throw enough strikes. He was pretty much just on the defense. So half way through the round, I just kind of had to switch it up and sucker him into letting some of his punches in, which opened him back up. Then, I set the angle and landed the shot.”

The win over Pyle set Ottow up for an even bigger fight. This Saturday night, at UFC Boise co-main event slot against popular up-and-comer Sage Northcutt (10-2, 5-2 UFC). For the bout against Northcutt, Ottow will make the walk to the octagon for the second time in 2018, looking to add the popular Texas-born fighter to his win list.

“I really like it,” said Ottow, of the matchup. “I was super pumped when it came in. I didn’t even know it was something that was going to be on the table, because I thought that he was at 155. I just really like how we match up stylistically.”

“I think on the feet, I can kind of be a chameleon in there,” described Ottow. “The way that I’ve had to fight other people in the past in the UFC, I can fight a lot of different ways. I think the fans and everybody is going to see a different style and everything I come out with than I have had in previous fights. I’m super excited about it and I’m ready to get in there and be relentless and go for nasty finish.”

When reflecting on his UFC tenure, Ottow attributes his improvement to not only his own training, but coaching others as well. His gym, Pura Vida MMA, is one of the fastest-growing gyms in the Midwest, housing fighters such as Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series notables Montel Jackson and Alton Cunningham.

“It’s not like I have some 9-5 office job and then I have to get to the gym and get to training,” explained Ottow. “Everything kind of goes with each other. The coaching and the fighting it’s like– it always keeps you on you toes, basically.”

“There’re always questions that need to get answered and it really keeps you sharp with the techniques. It’s kind of like a little relief from the fighting, because you don’t have to work hard necessarily to teach. But at the same time, it keeps you sharp mentally with the game.”

Training, coaching, preparing, and visualizing have prepared Ottow for the biggest fight of his life. When picturing the bout in his head, he doesn’t believe there will be any need for the cage-side judges.

“Definitely a finish,” said Ottow. “I don’t see it lasting more than two rounds. I see myself getting a win and bonus.”

To learn more about Zak Ottow, follow him on social media:

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Nolan King is a MMA Today senior columnist, writer and renowned MMA insider. Nolan's other freelance work can also be found on FloCombat, Tapology, and MMA Brasil.