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When Invicta Fighting Championships pulls back the curtain on its 2020 campaign, Ashley Cummins will be front and center.
Cummins challenges Jinh Yu Frey for the atomweight crown in the Invicta 39 main event on Friday at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas, where she will attempt to avenge a July 2017 decision defeat to the eventual 105-pound champion. She believes she has made the necessary adjustments.
“I think I went in with a bad game plan in my last fight with Jinh,” Cummins told Sherdog. “I was so focused on one game plan and didn’t have a backup one in case that one didn’t work out. I didn’t fight the fight I needed. It was a good lesson for me. I learned what I needed to work on. Ever since then, I never stopped training and have gotten a lot better since my first fight with Jinh. I’m excited to showcase my skills and improvement.”
Since their first showdown, Cummins has won back-to-back bouts against Stephanie Alba and Jessica Delboni. Frey, meanwhile, went on to capture the vacant Invicta atomweight title after beating Minna Grusander by decision in July 2018 and securing another decision in their rematch six month later. While some believe the champion’s experience fighting across five rounds would provide an advantage over the California native—Cummins has not fought in a 25-minute bout yet—the challenger does not appear to be concerned.
“I know my cardio is ready to go [as] hard in the fourth and fifth round as I will be going in the first round,” Cummins said. “I’ll be ready no matter what.”
Besides her two title fights against Grusander, Frey has competed twice in Asia in different promotions since her first encounter with Cummins. The American dropped lost on both occasions. Despite the challenge of facing some of the best fighters from other promotions, Cummins does not feel the need to follow in Frye’s footsteps and compete in Asia.
“I will have nothing left to prove to show I am the best atomweight in the world after beating Jinh,” Cummins said. “I will be the champion and will have avenged my only loss in the atomweight division. Winning this fight for me will finally let me rest easy knowing I reached my dreams in life of being a world champion. I honestly don’t have much interest in fighting in Asia. I have talked to my coaches about it in the past, and it just isn’t something that is on the top of my list of what I want to do. I have a full-time career of being a cop, and I just don’t want to go through it. Fight camps are hard enough, and then to have to go through the travel and time change on top of that … I just don’t want to go through that. They would be lovely countries to visit, but I don’t want to fight there. For me, my dream is for the UFC to start [an] atomweight [division]. I would rather do that than go over to Asia.”
A San Diego police officer, Cummins patrols one of the busiest and worst areas of the city. Despite putting in 40-plus hours a week in one of the toughest jobs in the world, the atomweight has found a way to succeed in two professions.
“I pretty much don’t have a life,” Cummins said. “I literally have such little time during training camps that I eat while I am driving. I have done both for so long [that] I am just good at balancing it. I love both of my careers. I can’t imagine doing one and not having the other in my life. I need both.”
Fighters often struggle financially as they work their way up the ranks, and working a day job makes it difficult to improve their skills in the gym. Cummins admits her efforts as a police officer comes at the expense of her pursuits in MMA.
“I think that if I didn’t have a full-time career, I would be able to put more hours in at the gym,” she said. “That would equate to being a better fighter because I would be putting more hours into something. My time in the gym is far less than full-time fighters. I make do with what I have, and when I am not in work, I am in the gym.”
Cummins believes that law enforcement helps keep her grounded.
“For me, life gets put into perspective easily because of my job as a police officer,” she said. “The things I see, the situations I deal with, put things into perspective. This is just a fight; it isn’t a life-or-death situation. I don’t have someone trying to shoot me or run me over. I have someone trying to hurt me, but it is way different than at work. My career as a police officer helps me easily deal with my MMA career.”