MMA Fighter Ashley Cummins on Career and Battling Adversity

kim kardashian

Ashley Cummins knows all about battling hardships. As she is a professional mixed martial artist and police officer, that may not be surprising. What is surprising is how many she has had to go through to get to this stage of her career.

Cummins, who holds a 3-3 professional MMA record, will make her Bellator debut on June 24 against Nicole Smith (1-0) at Bellator 157: Dynamite 2.

I honestly don’t know much about her. There’s not much on YouTube,” Cummins told Rush Hour Daily. “She hasn’t fought for a couple of years. She trains out of a really good gym in Illinois, so I’m expecting a tough fight.”

Cummins still has a contract with Invicta Fighting Championships, a prominent all-women’s MMA promotion. She’s fighting Smith at a 110 lb. catchweight bout as part of her goal to achieve being able to fight at atomweight (105 lbs.) as opposed to strawweight (115 lbs.)

I told [Invicta] that I wanted to drop to the 105 weight class because I’m not big enough to fight 115,” Cummins said. They fully supported my decision but asked me to take a couple of fights first at 105 to make sure I could make the weight cut.” 

Cummins is hoping that making the cut to 110 lbs. will make it easier on her body to make 105 lbs. in the future. For now, she is keeping her focus on Smith. Although the Tapology community views Cummins as nearly a 70-30 underdog, she didn’t know that MMA fans see Smith as the favorite, nor did she let it bother her.

“I have my game plan and I feel stronger at my lower weight,” Cummins said. “For the first time, I’ll be fighting someone at my own size and I’m just excited for the opportunity.”

What’s even more exciting for Cummins is where the fight will take place. Bellator 157 will be held in her home city of St. Louis, so for the first time, she’ll have the opportunity to be able to fight in front of her friends and family who will be in the crowd pumping her up.

For what is a golden opportunity, Cummins has had to battle to reach it. She was a contestant to reach the show on The Ultimate Fighter Season 23, the UFC reality show. The competitors were coached by current UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and No. 1-contender Claudia Gadelha.

Cummins barely fell short of officially competing on the season following a second round TKO loss to Lanchana Green back in April which decided who would make it to the TUF house. Cummins dominated Green for nearly the whole five-minute duration of the first round after out-wrestling her and threatening with submissions following an early double-leg takedown. In the second round, Green was able to defend Cummins’ takedown attempts and eventually finish her with knees and punches in the clinch. An unfortunate injury prevented Cummins from being as effective as she would’ve liked in that second round.

“It sucked to lose the way I did,” Cummins said. “I just got caught with a hard knee. The first knee she landed broke my rib and I couldn’t recover after that. It was embarrassing, to be honest. I wasn’t looking forward to it airing on national television. You just have to take experiences in life and come back stronger and make it mold you into a better person and athlete.”

Cummins is no stranger to making good on that last statement. She had to battle through a lot of adversity just to get the opportunity to fight on The Ultimate Fighter, including a potential life-changing injury. During her first professional career loss to Joanne Calderwood at Invicta FC 3 in 2012, Cummins’ vision went out on the first punch that Calderwood landed. Cummins eventually got TKO’d 3:13 into the fight after losing her vision just seconds into the bout. It turned out that Cummins suffered three broken orbital bones under her right eye and would need surgery just to have a shot at fixing her vision.

I couldn’t drive or watch television,” Cummins said. “I laid in bed, afraid I would lose my job. The doctor told me it wasn’t a guarantee my vision would come back, so I was scared.”

Following that harrowing experience, it’s a wonder that Cummins even returned to fighting.

“I couldn’t tell you how many times I said, ‘I’m done. I’m retired. It wasn’t worth it,’” Cummins said. “But I realized I still had the itch to fight, so I started training again and here I am.”

Since the injury, Cummins has lost to Emily Kagan and Alexa Grasso under the Invicta banner. While she is currently on a three-fight losing skid, the opponents she’s lost to are hardly ones to feel ashamed of, especially since all three held a size advantage on her. Calderwood (10-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) and Kagan (3-3 MMA, 0-2 UFC) both went on to fight in the UFC’s strawweight division following their experiences on The Ultimate Fighter Season 20. Grasso, who fights in Invicta, still holds an undefeated record at 7-0.

Cummins’ still dreams of being able to follow Calderwood and Kagan’s path to the UFC, even if it meant she’d have to go back up to the strawweight division and fight bigger women.

“Right now, my goal is to be successful at the 105 weight class since I haven’t been successful at 115,” Cummins said. “If the UFC ever gave me the call, I’d jump all over it. My current goal is to get back to Invicta and tear it up at the 105 weight class.”

Given Cummins’ mental fortitude, that would not be surprising. She believes her job as a police officer is beneficial to her fighting career, and vice-versa.

“They both complement each other. I think MMA complements my police career for the self-defense aspect if someone is resisting arrest or trying to fight me,” Cummins said. “It helps me get them under custody as quick as possible. As a police officer, I’ve been in scary situations where someone was trying to take my life. When I go into a fight, I realize it’s not a life-or-death situation. It’s just a sport, you have to have fun.”


Featured Image by’s Esther Lin for Invicta FC

About News Team

Hi, I'm Alex Perez, an experienced writer with a focus on lifestyle and culture news. From food and fashion to travel and entertainment, I love exploring the latest trends and sharing my insights with readers. I also have a strong interest in world news and business, and enjoy covering breaking stories and events.

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