If you were a professional fighter, what would you do to get into the UFC? There are a number of clear path scenarios, and then there are the roads less taken. In any case, very rarely do you get an extreme mis(match), where someone who’s untested face the cream of the crop.
That is, how does someone who’s 4-0 against opponents with a combined record of 10-20 face an elite fighter that’s never lost a round in 13 fights?
Now consider one of the biggest, if not the biggest (mis)match that was founded upon verbal exchange — Chael Sonnen vs. Jon Jones. After a loss to Anderson Silva in Middleweight, all without having a single bout in Light Heavweight, Sonnen talked his way into a fight against Jones.
Coincidences do happen, but there’s an overly intriguing amount of parallel here, and it’s to no surprise that Sonnen and Cummins are teammates (Reign MMA). Since Sonnen vs. Jones, Cummins vs. Cormier is literally the biggest (mis)match founded upon verbal exchange.
Both Cummins and Sonnen is willing to fight the elite on short notice (Chael did offer to fight Cormier). Fans love Sonnen’s antics, and now he’s a company man. Cummins took the media by storm, has he’s now been offered a multi-fight deal for his willingness to fight Cormier.
Sonnen has said and done many things, some contemptible, yet he remains highly likeable. When Jones was asked about Sonnen, he acknowledged that there’s two versions of him: one friendly and respectful, and the other over-the-top. Look at interviews or profiles of Cummins before Cormier, and it suggests that he’s so very easy going and likeable.
Heck, he holds one of the best underdog stories in the history of collegiate wrestling. Cummins never made it to top 8 at State Championships, yet he eventually became the #2 heavyweight in the country. His life is a cinderella story in any way you look at it. Shown in the right light, his story could’ve be a huge selling point.
Yet when Rashad Evans had to pull out due to an injury, Cummins chose to go over-the-top. He got to Cormier in a similar fashion to how Sonnen got under Silva and Jone’s skin. He broke the “practice room code”, and took an emotionally vulnerable moment out of context.
But believe it or not, his fan base skyrocketed, and everyone is writing about him. His Twitter following went from 400 to 5000 in a matter of days; his name is now popular in the world of MMA. Because of this controversy, he now has ample opportunity to prove his skills. Would he have gotten this opportunity if he never did what he did? Would Sonnen have fought Jones?
The Price of Ascent
Pat Cummins is extremely talented (having 50 fighter turn you down will make that ascertain), and he probably would’ve made it to the UFC in the near future. But because he took the “Chael Sonnen Route“, he’s forced to face a nightmare matchup, and we’d be wise to remember that Sonnen got mauled by Jones.
Cormier is more experienced than him, a better striker and a better wrestler than him. Cormier will hold distinct mental advantages over Cummins: full fight camp and never losing a round even against elite competition.
But perhaps most importantly, Cormier once 7-0ed Cummins in a wrestling match. After some technical analysis on Cummins striking, I can add that he’s got critical range and defensive deficiencies. While Cummins’ rudimentary striking game to setup takedowns worked against his past opponents, Cormier is a totally different beast.
On Saturday night, this different beast will stand in front him; he will hit him and tested him like no other man has done before. That is his ultimate price of ascent. But if he can put up a fight, or even more absurdly, win against Cormier, we may actually have the “next Jon Jones”. Heck, it’d be the cinderella story that MMA will never forget.
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