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Fighter of the Week: Ashley Cummins

Ashley “Smashley” Cummins
Pro Record: 5-3
Association: Wolves Den MMA
Weight Class: Atomweight/Strawweight

From day time cage fighter to night time crime fighter, Invicta FC fighter Ashley Cummins devotes long hours to both of her passions. Cummins is not only a full time MMA fighter training during the day but she also works night shift as a police officer for St Louis County. Cummins grew up in a suburb of St Louis with a mother who had concern about Cummins being able to protect herself so she enrolled her in karate at age 5. Cummins would also grow up playing softball and soccer, becoming a standout soccer player and earning a college scholarship to Southwest Baptist University, which was a nationally ranked Division II team during her time there. But after her sophomore season playing soccer and her aggression on the field kicking her out of a few games for ‘fighting’, she decided to find a better outlet and follow her passion for combat sports.

Cummins had taken some boxing and jiu-jitsu classes but she wanted to become more serious in her training. She began training at St. Charles MMA and Team Vaghi in the St. Louis area. With her new team came some strict rules. Her coach would not allow her to turn pro in MMA until she competed in ten or more jiu-jitsu tournaments and became a blue belt in jiu-jitsu. At the same time she began competing in Muay Thai. By the time her first MMA fight came around, Cummins was experienced in multiple events and aspects of martial arts. She’s even admitted she doesn’t specialize in one aspect but she considers herself “good at everything” and a “well-rounded fighter”. In the two and a half years training MMA before her first amateur fight she had already competed in 8 Muay Thai tournaments and 10 jiu-jitsu tournaments. Her first two amateur MMA fights would be within two weeks of each other. She won her first amateur fight within a minute and a half by armbar. She felt so good and came out of the fight unscathed so she was offered another fight two weeks later against a heavy favorite and “champion” in the Las Vegas ‘Man Up Promotions’ (MUP) and won that by rear-naked choke within 30 seconds.

After compiling an 8-0 record in the amateur ranks, Cummins made her professional debut over two years after making her amateur debut. She would fight in the XFL in Xtreme Fight Night against Chelsea Colarelli and win by rear-naked choke late in the 5th round to win the XFL Strawweight title. After winning another fight a couple of months later in NAAFS, Cummins signed with Invicta FC where she would fight on Invicta FC 1 and beat Sofia Bagherdai by UD. Cummins first loss would come soon after at Invicta FC 3, where she would lose to future TUF 20 and UFC fighter Joanne Calderwood by KO (knee to the body). Unfortunately, the road wouldn’t get any easier as she lost her next two bouts by decisions to Emily Kagan, who is also a TUF 20 alum who lost to Calderwood on the show and Alexa Grasso. Both women are current UFC fighters respectively. Cummins would get her chance to follow in the footsteps of Calderwood and Kagan, however. Cummins was selected to participate in TUF 23 (Joanna vs. Claudia) but unfortunately the losing streak continued as she would fall by TKO (knees to the body and punches) in the 2nd round of the qualifying round of the ‘tournament’.

Cummins had requested a drop to Atomweight in Invicta after her latest loss but they wanted her to fight at a lighter weight “a couple of times” out of the promotion (and win) before they would concede. This would lead to Cummins fighting out of the promotion for the first time since the promotion was established in 2012. Cummins would show her resilience, however, and win at Bellator 157 by submission (knee choke) in Rd 2 against Nikki Smith in a catchweight bout at 110 lbs… apparently that was all Invicta had to see as they offered Cummins a fight in the promotion and this time for an Atomweight fight. Cummins jumped at the chance to get back in the organization at her natural weight stating she accepted the fight without knowing her opponent or how much she was going to get paid. As she explained, she was constantly fighting women bigger than her. She said after the TUF fight she would never fight at Strawweight again saying “out of the 80 girls that tried out, I was the smallest in the room”.

Cummins latest fight would come at Invicta FC 22 against a game Amber Brown. Unfortunately for Brown, Cummins wrestling is on another level and proved to be too much. Both women threatened triangle chokes in the 1st round, but Cummins would dominate rounds 2 and 3 where she would take Brown down and control the top position and batter Brown with elbows and submission attempts. Cummins nearly ended the fight with a rear-naked choke but even the decision win was enough to earn her a Performance of the Night bonus. Cummins would also give a nice tribute to fallen police officer, Blake Snyder during her post fight. More information on his story can be found on her Facebook page. Cummins made it clear that she wants the 105 lbs. belt. She says she has faced the toughest opponents at 115 lbs. and doesn’t believe she can be beat at the lighter weight, feeling faster and stronger than ever. Time will tell, but she sure looked good at this weight and I look forward to seeing her fight again soon.

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