Welcome to MMA Interviews by MMASucka.com. Be sure to check out our MMA interviews with some of the biggest and best names, past and present.
“All of the pressure is on Jinh Yu Frey,” Ashley Cummins said ahead of one of the biggest mixed martial arts bouts of her life.
The 29-year-old St. Louis police officer will battle Frey in the co-main event slot of Invicta FC 24 on July 15. A win isn’t the only thing at stake, as Cummins told MMASucka.com that Invicta President Shannon Knapp said that the card’s featured atomweight bout will serve as a title-eliminator; the victor will get a title shot at the division’s champion, Ayaka Hamasaki. So, why is all the pressure on Frey?
“[Frey’s] the number-two fighter in the world at 105 lbs and fans want to see her fight Ayaka in the rematch,” Cummins said, referencing Frey’s 2016 title fight with Hamasaki, which resulted in a second-round TKO win for Hamasaki. “People are expecting her to fight for the title again. I’m just going in there to have fun.”
With all of those lofty expectations for Frey comes the “betting favorite” label. While there are no betting odds yet available for the fight, over 90 percent of MMA fans on Tapology are picking Frey to defeat Cummins and get her rematch with Hamasaki.
That leaves Cummins in her familiar underdog role, one that she has come to embrace after defeating the moderately favored-Amber Brown in her most recent fight.
“I love being the underdog,” she said. “I know I’m a huge underdog for this fight just like I was my last fight.”
Cummins said that the fight announcement received a lot of backlash from fans across social media who wanted to see Frey rematch Hamasaki straight away, which resulted in Cummins being extremely complimentary of Frey, as well as the exciting fight they seem destined to put on.
“Frey accepted the fight because she’s a competitor,” Cummins said. “I have a lot of respect for Frey. She’s one of the best in the world. She’s a well-rounded fighter, but I honestly think no one can beat me at 105.”
In actuality, it will be just Cummins’ second professional fight at atomweight. For the majority of her career, she plied her trade at the strawweight division, 10 lbs up from where she is now. Once “Smashley” shed down to atomweight, she noticed a massive difference in her in-cage performance.
“I felt amazing [against Brown],” she said. “It’s crazy how dropping a weight class, how different you feel. I feel stronger and faster. It’s nice fighting people my size. Everyone I fought at 115 was way bigger than me. At 105, no one’s going to be bullying me around the cage, or be stronger or faster than me.”
In addition to the more natural weight class, motivational forces have been a key factor in Cummins’ career resurgence.
The March 25 bout against Brown saw Cummins emotionally reveal that she dedicated her performance to fallen police officer, Blake Snyder, who was not only a co-worker, but a friend. Cummins said she not only sought to prove to herself what she was capable of, but to win so that she could honor Snyder in her post-fight speech.
“The loser of the fight doesn’t get a chance to be interviewed,” she said.
If once again successful, fans might see Cummins give her father a birthday shout-out in her victory-speech.
“I think mainly, my motivation is to go out there and put on a show for my fans,” Cummins said. “The extra incentive is that my dad’s birthday falls on July 15. I want to go out there and give him a great win for his present. He’s my No. 1-fan.”
A present to her father wouldn’t be the only reward that Cummins would reap with a win over Frey on Saturday. A title shot would also be among the winner’s loot, and Cummins said she’d be happy to take on Hamasaki as soon as Invicta and its champion are ready.
First things first, Cummins must take care of business with Frey. While most feel that she won’t be able to overcome arguably the second-best atomweight on the planet, Cummins and her “amazing” Wolves Den team believe.
“Frey has a tough night ahead of her when she accepted this fight with me,” she said. “Two of the best 105ers are about to go at it.”