Patrick Cummins' wild ride changing course, aiming for just one perfect night

LAS VEGAS – Patrick Cummins’ UFC run has been unquestionably one of the strangest journeys in recent memory, but “Durkin” says he wouldn’t change a thing. Of course, that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t like to change a few things moving forward.

“My mindset was always, ‘All right, you had your first pro fight when you were 30, which is so different from everybody else,’” Cummins told MMA Junkie during an interview at the UFC Performance Institute. “It’s like, either we’re going to do this right now, or it’s not going to happen. I was always like, ‘Let’s find the best guy and beat that best guy,’ and let’s just fast-track it. In hindsight, that was freaking stupid. Like, what are you doing, man?

“I see younger guys I see now kind of picking their path and doing it that smart way, and I look at them, and it’s like, ‘Man, you guys are so much smarter than me. What’s wrong? Why did I do this to myself?’ But, at the same time, you can take the easy way too long, and it’ll affect you. You need to be tested. But I kind of wish I would have slowed it down a little bit. I didn’t need to have that crazy rush because it’s been five years now, and it’s dragged me out. I’ve been fighting top-10 guys for the past four years now, and it’s like, ‘Eh.’ It’s good to take a little step back and kind of readjust and just focus on one thing and not ‘Where is this fight going to take me?’ because that’s always been me – so I’m just going to relax and have fun.”

In his UFC debut, Cummins infamously faced an undefeated Daniel Cormier, stepping in on a little more than one week’s notice to face the former Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix winner in his first bout in the light heavyweight division. Fighting for the first time in nine months and doing so without even a semblance of a training camp, Cummins lasted just 79 seconds in their UFC 170 contest.

Cummins was offered only minimal respite in his next two outings, picking up wins over a then-undefeated Roger Narvaez and Kyle Kingsbury, who retired following the matchup. Since then, it’s been a non-stop parade of top-level talent, including Corey Anderson, Jan Blachowicz, Misha Curkunov, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Ovince Saint Preux and Glover Teixeira, among others.

For an athlete that had just a little more than 11 minutes of fighting experience prior to his UFC debut, it’s been quite the journey.

So after a disappointing 0-2 run in 2018, Cummins said he was forced to pause for a little reflection.

“I just said, ‘I’m going to take a step back,’” Cummins said. “I’m going to get out of this for a second and just clear my head and make sure this is actually what I really want to do because I’m 38 years old, and it’s like, what’s the point of doing this if you don’t think you can get yourself to where you want to be?

“I’ve kind of readjusted my expectations as far as, I’ve always put pressure on myself, like, ‘All right, we’ve got to string three fights together and then we’re going to push for a title shot.’ It’s like, that goal is lofty, and that’s how I’ve always operated my whole life. I’ve always shot high. Always – and it’s paid off. But I think in the past couple of years, it’s kind of put an extra stress on me that I don’t need.

“Fighting is hard enough, and when you put the pressure on yourself like, ‘What are you doing this for? If you’re not going to be the No. 1, what’s going on?’ The problem is I really enjoy doing it. I mean, it’s just like, take it one step at a time and just enjoy the process.”

With that philosophy in mind, Cummins relocated to Las Vegas, where he followed coach Neal Melanson to Syndicate MMA and is also taking advantage of the services of the UFC Performance Institute, as well. After previous stints in Florida, Colorado and Southern California, Cummins said he’s enjoying his new journey.

“I feel like I’ve been so nomadic the past year or two, that it’s kind of become second nature to me,” Cummins said. “It’s not that big of a deal, but it is nice to kind of roll into a place and make friends, like, right away and have decent guys to train with and have everything set up and kind of catered to you.

“It’s nice, so this transition has probably been the smoothest of all of them.”

Cummins (10-6 MMA, 6-6 UFC) returns to the cage at next month’s UFC on ESPN+ 9 event, where he takes on longtime veteran Ed Herman (23-14 MMA, 10-11 UFC) at the May 18 event at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y. The full card streams live on ESPN+.

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The two 38-year-old fighters have taken very different paths to the contest, but while Herman boasts twice as many professional fights to his name, Cummins’ former life as former member of the U.S. national wrestling team means neither is coming in without their share of longterm wear.

“I think the difference between us is he has more fight miles on him,” Cummins said. “We definitely have the same amount of miles on us. I’m sure he’s feeling the same aches and pains I am right now, but I think it’s a cool matchup. He’s a guy that’s been around forever, and he’s that crafty veteran guy, so it’s going to be cool to see how things match up.

“He’s a nice dude. It’s going to be fun to put that aside, scrap it out, and then go have a beer afterwards.”

What happens from there, Cummins won’t even try to predict. For him, thoughts of rankings and title contention no longer hold the importance they once did. It’s about the journey, and Cummins said he’s currently pursuing something within himself rather than any outside recognition.

“My last couple fights, they really fell short for me,” Cummins said. “Obviously, you lose, it sucks. But just kind of my mindset going into it and just feeling the way that I felt – I felt really good – and I was just so disappointed when things didn’t work. It’s like, ‘What am I doing wrong here?’ I just want to get rid of that feeling, honestly. … I just want some answers, and I think trial by fire is the best way to do it.

“Everybody is chasing that performance that they know that they are capable of, and it’s like, man, I just want the opportunity to do that. That’s kind of what’s keeping me in it. I’ve adjusted my goals a little bit, and now it’s like, I just want to do the best I can possibly do one time, and you just feel it – you know what I mean? Just, ‘Ah, yeah! That was it!’ The chances of that happening, I know, are slim, but I could get 50 percent of that or 75 percent of that or whatever, and it will be better than what I’ve done previously. It will feel good.

“I’m not putting anything on it. It’s not like, ‘Hey, I’m going to give it one more shot.’ I think for a minute, I kind of thought that way, and then I was like, ‘Wait a minute, I like this too much.’ It wouldn’t make sense to do it that way. What I’m trying to do is take pressure off, and you unknowingly put a lot of pressure on yourself when you say, ‘This is my last one. We’re going to go for it.’ Screw that. Let’s just keep going.”

To hear more from Cummins, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC on ESPN+ 9, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

 

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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