Former Two Time Collegiate All American Wrestler Patrick Cummins will make his UFC debut this Saturday at UFC 170.
Sounds like a great addition to the card, right?
Well, the answer is not as cut and dry as MMA fans would like it to be. Cummins is stepping out of his role as an early morning barista and into a co-main event bout opposite Daniel Cormier.
Cummins is usually the type of prospect that fans love to see enter the UFC, but his scheduled bout against Cormier has many scratching their heads.
Yes, he is stepping in on very short notice against Cormier, but is he really the best the UFC can do? He has a solid wrestling pedigree but is only 4-0 in his MMA career and has never faced a noteworthy opponent.
After studying three of Cummins’ professional MMA bouts it’s easy to see that he far exceeds the level of talent on the regional circuit, but it’s still hard to tell if he is ready for a fighter of Cormier’s caliber.
In his pro debut against Terrell Brown, Cummins had a decent amount of difficulty taking down the out of shape part-time blackjack dealer. Against a former Olympic wrestler like Cormier, that will not cut it.
Cummins’ next two bouts were much more encouraging. The wrestling standout was able to immediately take down both of his foes and finish them with relative ease on the mat.
Even though Cummins has been impressive, his opponents have a combined 9-20 record in their MMA careers. To say he has beaten less than stellar opposition is putting it lightly.
So how exactly did Cummins score a UFC pay-per-view co-main event? Well there were two very large contributors.
One was an aggressive twitter campaign by MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani. Helwani had interviewed Cummins before his professional debut and thinks of him as a blue chip MMA prospect. The second large contributor was a story from Cummins about how he made Cormier cry during Olympic wrestling practice.
The story about Cummins making Cormier cry is definitely intriguing but it shouldn’t be a reason why Cummins is facing Cormier this weekend. It should be based on his fighting ability, which is frankly unknown. We know that he can smash mediocre fighters but can he be competitive with an elite mixed martial artist?
The fact that we have to ask these questions lead us to an even bigger problem. How could the UFC not find a bigger fight for Cormier? How could Chael Sonnen have been the only fighter on the UFC roster to step up and ask to fight Cormier?
We’ve seen a similar tale before. Do you remember Ilir Latifi’s short notice UFC debut against Gegard Mousasi? It was one of the most lopsided main events in UFC history. For the sake of the promotion I hope that this Saturday’s fight between Cummins and Cormier is at least somewhat competitive.
Now, don’t take this as a slight against Cummins. I give him all the props in the world for stepping up. The man could become MMA’s Rocky by knocking off Cormier.
Still, there is a bigger issue at hand when the UFC cannot find a suitable replacement for a top ranked fighter.