Last week, very few had heard the name Patrick Cummins in the world of MMA. As of last Wednesday, Cummins worked in a drive through coffee shop to try to financially support his training. He is an MMA prospect who has four wins from four fights but has struggled to find opponents due to his impressive wrestling pedigree. He has never fought in the UFC. Next Saturday however, Cummins will be taking part in UFC 170 in the co-main event. How? Let me explain…
Daniel Cormier is an ex-Olympic wrestler. He is undefeated through thirteen fights in MMA and after winning the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, he moved to the UFC where he has won both of his fights so far. At 34-years-old, he is not an “up and comer”, he is an “already there”. Cormier is widely considered to be the best wrestler in the UFC and was a top contender for the UFC Heavyweight belt. This issue here however is that Cormier trains with and coaches Heavyweight Champion, Cain Velasquez. As an alternative route to the top, and being that Cormier is a relatively small heavyweight, he has opted to drop to the light-heavyweight division to try to win his first UFC title.
The fight everyone wants to see is Cormier taking on Jon Jones for the title, yet both must win before that fight can be made. Cormier was due to face his toughest test next weekend at UFC 170 against ex-champ Rashad Evans, who has rediscovered his form. On Wednesday afternoon, UFC President Dana White, received word that Evans had sustained an injury in training and would no longer be able to take part. With 10 days until fight night White told Cormier that the fight would be cancelled as there was no appropriate replacement.
Cormier was devastated. It is the first time he has had to cut his weight down to the 205 pound limit and his training was on point. Also, he had trained at enormous financial expense, and was concerned that it would be for nought. He pleaded with White and later to UFC fighters over Twitter to find him an opponent. Thanks to the power of social media, 24 hours later is prayers had been answered.
Patrick Cummins knows Cormier well. In the past, he had been a training partner for Cormier prior to the Olympic Games. As a 4-0 top prospect, those in the know believe in his MMA potential and he is an athletic specimen. As soon as he heard, Cummins and his manager, Ryan Parsons, took to Twitter and began their unlikely campaign. Cummins after all was confident, for he had by his own account once been so dominant over Cormier in wrestling training that he had made him cry.
MMA journalist Ariel Helwani got wind of the campaign and saw its potential. Helwani has large influence in the world of MMA and is the sport’s most revered journalist. Helwani backed the campaign and started Tweeting himself. Word eventually got back to Dana White and he got working.
At 2:30 am on Thursday morning, Cummins did what he did every day. He woke up and got ready for work. At work he began baking before moving on to the drive through counter to take orders. Later that morning Cummins’ phone began vibrating in his pocket - a missed call. Then another missed call, followed by another. Eventually the coffee shop’s phone rang and Cummins’ boss told him “it’s for you”. It was Ryan Parsons….
“This might actually happen. We might get the fight. I’m on my way to you now!”
When Parsons pulled up at the coffee shop he handed Cummins his phone to which Cummins respond that he was off work in just twenty minutes and could it wait?
“It’s Dana White!” was all Cummins needed to hear.
He told White on the phone that the rumours were true. He had outwrestled Cormier, he had made him cry and he would do it again in 10 days time. Whilst on the phone, Cummins coffee shop boss fired him. White told him to get down to the gym. He had got the fight. An opportunity of a lifetime for the newly unemployed Cummins.
The very next day, the media frenzy began. Interview after interview after interview, followed swiftly by the arrival of UFC’s production team to film their Countdown show. Cummins is not used to this level of attention, but he is ready for the occasion. He has been ready for a long long time. He was born ready.
This is no work of fiction, this is just another week in the UFC. If you like the underdog, this sport is really for you. If you like unpredictability, this sport is unparalleled. If you like a crossbreed of entertainment and immense skill and you do not currently follow MMA or the UFC, take my word for it. You’re missing out.
On Saturday night at UFC Fight Night in Brazil, Lyoto Machida beat Gerard Mousasi by Unanimous decision. He moves one step closer to earning a UFC Middleweight title shot against the winner of Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort who face off at UFC 173. Since moving down from light-heavyweight to middleweight, Machida looks like a new fighter, seemingly reinvigorated.