Patrick Cummins: How an Unknown Fighter Got the Chance of a Lifetime

Jeremy Botter@jeremybotterMMA Senior WriterFebruary 14, 2014

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LAS VEGAS — On Wednesday afternoon, Dana White was informed that Rashad Evans, who was scheduled to compete next week at UFC 170 against Daniel Cormier, had injured his knee.

Evans was scheduled for an MRI to assess the extent of the damage. Evans said he still wanted to fight and felt like he could compete against Cormier.

White and his staff waited for the results to come back. Later that night, White was attending his son's basketball game when he got the call: Evans was out of the fight, but he would only be out for four weeks.

Cormier was informed of the injury, and he was upset. He told White he had to fight.

"This whole cutting weight thing was hard on him," White said during a media lunch today.

White said the weight came off easily, but that Cormier was upset that he put all the work in and wasn't going to get to fight. White told Cormier that Evans was only supposed to be out for four weeks and that he wanted to put Cormier on the UFC 172 card in Baltimore in April.

"I was keeping my options open. I was thinking light heavyweight tournament," White said.

"I don't want to fight in Baltimore," Cormier said. "I need to fight."

"There's nothing I can do, man," White responded. "Plus, nobody is going to fight you on a week's notice."

Cormier called White twice during the game, pleading for something to be done. But White went to bed on Tuesday night believing he was powerless to help Cormier out.

When White woke up on Thursday morning, he heard about a Twitter petition for Patrick Cummins to get the fight against Cormier. Cummins, an undefeated former collegiate All-American wrestler, had publicly said on Twitter that he would be glad to fight Cormier.

White found out the details on Cummins. He liked what he heard, especially when Cummins' manager told White what Cummins said: When Cummins and Cormier used to train together, he claimed, he often made Cormier cry. He broke him.

White was intrigued. And so Cummins' manager, Ryan Parsons, was asked to get Cummins on the phone. White wanted to know if the story was true, and he wanted to hear it from the horse's mouth. Cummins didn't answer White's calls because he was at work at a coffee shop in Dana Point, California.

Parsons drove to the coffee shop and walked in. He told the manager on duty that he needed to speak to Cummins.

"He's working," the manager responded. "He can't talk right now. You're going to have to leave."

And so Parsons got back in his car and went to the drive-through window, where Cummins was working his shift.

"Hey, I need to talk to you," Parsons said. "I need to get you on the phone so you can talk to Dana."

Parsons gave Cummins the phone. White asked him about his comments claiming he could make Cormier cry.

"I'm telling you right now," Cummins said. "I made Cormier cry every time we wrestled. I broke him every time. And I'll beat him on Saturday night."

White was interested. But Cummins continued.

"Well, I hope I get this fight," he said. "Because they just fired me."

Cummins' manager had fired him for taking the phone call while on shift.

"You tell your manager to go f--k himself," White told Cummins. "Head to the gym right now. We'll call you in a little while."

White then called Cormier and told him he had the fight against Cummins.

"I know that guy," Cormier said with a laugh. White relayed what Cummins told him about making him cry and breaking him during wrestling.

Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

"First of all, if anything like that ever really happened, it was because guys were cycling in on me," Cormier told White. "I wasn't wrestling just one guy. I was training for the world championships and they were cycling guys in on me.

"If he ever beat me, and if any of this is remotely true, he did it in some obscure wrestling room out in the middle of nowhere where three people saw it. I'm going to whip his ass on the biggest stage on earth on Saturday night."

And that's how Patrick Cummins, long considered one of the best light heavyweight prospects in the world, finally got his shot at the UFC.

And he's getting the chance against one of the best fighters in the world. It's a tough ask for anyone, much less a fighter making his UFC debut.

Cummins is just 4-0 as a professional. And yes, he is a virtual unknown to much of the MMA world. But let me tell you something: I have seen Cummins train with some of the best the world has to offer at Mark Munoz's Reign Training Center in California, and I can tell you right now that he's a much tougher fighter than anyone is giving him credit for.

I'm not saying Cummins is going to beat Cormier. I don't think he will. What I'm saying is, don't be surprised if this fighter you've never heard of gives Cormier a ferociously tough test.


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