When something bad happens, you have three choices: Let it define you, let it destroy you or let it strengthen you.
Ashley Cummins was in dire straits following her Invicta FC 3 bout against Joanne Calderwood. Her fighting career and her job as a police officer were both in jeopardy after she lost vision in her eye.
Thankfully, when presented with those three options, she chose the latter.
Following successful surgery and the recovery of her vision, Cummins is back stronger and more motivated than ever. She's surrounded by fresh faces, new management and is hoping to get right back on track as one of the top female prospects at 115 pounds.
Cummins spoke to MMAmania.com during a special guest appearance on The Verbal Submission earlier tonight about recovering from the devastating eye injury, making big changes in her approach and trying to put on a show against Emily Kagan this Saturday night.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You made some big changes for this camp. Can you tell me about your trip to South Carolina?
Ashley Cummins: This training camp I did something different that I'd never done before. I wanted to branch out and train at other gyms with other pro female fighters. Two weekends ago I went to South Carolina to train with Sara McMann and Jessica Eye. Tamika Brents was also there. Two other times during my training camp I went to Tamika Brents' gym Warrior Concepts in Illinois. I think that helped my game a lot and definitely helped me prepare for this fight a lot more.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You did quite a bit of work with Tamika Brents in this camp. Where do you think she helped you the most?
Ashley Cummins: Oh I got better at everything. She helped my stand-up, my wrestling, my submissions. I didn't know how good she was until I actually started training with her. She's a fucking beast! The best part is her gym is only about two hours from my gym so that's really convenient to go over there and get some work in.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You did some no-gi grappling competition as well, taking home a few medals, right?
Ashley Cummins: Yeah, I did that before I started my training camp for this fight. I competed in a couple grappling tournaments to get back in the flow of competing again because I laid low for a while because I had my surgery and had taken a couple months off from that. I just wanted to get back into the groove of things.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Now you've mentioned that your parents didn't let you do the big contact sports because they were afraid of you getting hurt. With you winning your first 10 fights, what was their reaction after the last fight against Calderwood because everything about that was pretty damn scary?
Ashley Cummins: They were just worried about me because I had to get surgery after the fight because of my injuries. Honestly, I was really concerned after the fight because I was worried I'd lose my profession. I thought I'd lose my job and they were concerned about that. Thankfully the surgery worked and my vision came back and I was able to keep my job and be able to continue to fight.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I remember hearing the reports after the fight that you were having troubles with your vision and you'd suffered a broken orbital. That must have been a harrowing experience.
Ashley Cummins: Yeah, I lost my vision in the first 15 seconds of the first round and in the fight I was just trying to stall hoping my vision would come back. I was confused about what was happening. After I lost, I was in the locker room and I still couldn't see that well. I went to the emergency room that night and that's when I found out I had three broken bones under my eye. I waited a week to see if my vision was going to come back on its own and it never did so the doctor recommended surgery. I got the surgery, took another couple weeks to get my vision to come back fully and I was just thankful that my vision came back and everything was able to continue. Everything ended up working out.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): That must have been a pretty good day when you woke up and everything started to clear up vision-wise.
Ashley Cummons: Yeah, it sucked to lose and to go through the surgery but in the end, I think it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. It led to a lot of positive things. After the fight I left my gym and started training at Berger MMA and that's definitely been a huge positive in my life. Also I got a new manager after that fight and Hector Castro's been awesome, another big positive in my life. It was definitely a hard situation to go through but I think it was for the best and that I've grown a lot as a fighter ever since then.
Ashley Cummins: Emily Kagan is a very tough opponent. I don't take any of my opponents lightly and especially not her lightly. I feel she's very well-rounded. She's got good ground, good wrestling, good stand-up and she's very aggressive. That being said, I'm very well-rounded as well and I'm aggressive too. We're both coming off losses so expect this fight to be an absolute war. No one wants to lose two in a row and it's definitely not going to be me.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you feel like you're both very similar fighters? Both of you are jacks-of-all-trades, capable of doing damage just about anywhere.
Ashley Cummins: Yeah, i feel like Shannon Knapp and Janet Martin of Invicta are such great matchmakers and I think this is the perfect match. We're both at the same style and the same skill level and I just think this is the perfect match for a great exciting fight.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Since you're the final fight on the preliminary card, do you almost view yourself as the last reason for someone to want to buy the pay-per-view, that you need to help give some on-the-fence viewers that little extra push?
Ashley Cummins: (laughs) Exactly. I think all the preliminary fights are going to be action packed just like the main event. Emily and I are going to go in there and make a statement for female MMA and especially to get people to buy the main card.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Have you had any shifts in your pre-fight mentality now that you're coming off a loss? Is anything different in this particular fight week?
Ashley Cummins: I feel like because of the loss I don't have as much pressure on me anymore. It's like I got my first loss out of the way, it happens. No one's perfect. I can't win every fight. I'm going to go into every fight and give it 100 percent, the best I can and hope it works out in my favor. I think that loss really fueled me. I feel like this training camp was the best training camp I've ever had and I feel like that loss made me push harder than I've ever pushed. It definitely motivated me to show the world I belong in the pro cage. The loss won't bring me down. I've got to keep going.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you feel like your division in particular, the strawweights at 115 pounds are the most stacked division in women's MMA? It seems like Invicta is just overloaded in talent at that weight class right now.
Ashley Cummins: I always say that to my dad. I'm always telling my dad that the 115 pound weight class is the most stacked weight class. It is loaded with talent and it's crazy the skill-level in my weight class and also awesome to see.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): When you're thinking about this upcoming fight against Emily Kagan and you're picturing victory in your head, how do you envision success?
Ashley Cummins: I just see myself dominating the fight in all aspects. I think the first round's gonna be close but if it goes into the second or third round, I see myself dominating. I feel like my stand-up is better and my ground is better so either way I think I can pull off the win.
Ashley would like to thank all her coaches and teammates at Berger's MMA, her manager Hector Castro and her sponsors Fear the Fighter, X Ionix Band, Pro Fight Supplements, Tussle, Fight Chix and Adversary. You can follow her on Twitter @SmashleyMMA.