Patrick Cummins Can Still Be a Legitimate UFC Light Heavyweight

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Patrick Cummins Can Still Be a Legitimate UFC Light Heavyweight
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Cummins faced the wrath of an amped-up Daniel Cormier at UFC 170, and the UFC newcomer performed...not so well. 

Cummins ate several hard shots from Cormier in Round 1, dropping to a knee and eventually turtling up and forcing the referee to intervene. 

In just 80 seconds, Cummins' UFC debut was over, and a week's worth of trash-talking was settled (and not in his favor). 

The fight went poorly for the former barista Cummins, but it was not an indication of his eventual place in the UFC's light heavyweight division. 

Let's cut through the pre-fight buildup and realistically analyze this fight. 

Daniel Cormier was supposed to win. He's undefeated, he's beaten two current UFC top-10 heavyweights in Josh Barnett and Antonio Silva, and he trains at one of the nation's best gyms at American Kickboxing Academy with the sport's best heavyweight, Cain Velasquez. 

This man is destined for mixed martial arts greatness. 

Making the drop to light heavyweight, Cormier was set to face former 205-pound UFC champion Rashad Evans. Unfortunately, that matchup didn't pan out after Evans suffered an injury, and Cummins stepped up to the plate for what would be his biggest test to date...by a landslide. 

No matter how much smack Cummins talked or how vigorously he stirred the pot leading up to his bout with Cormier, understand this: Cummins is not Rashad Evans. You probably had not heard of Cummins before this series of events unfolded. 

That tells you everything you need to know about his chances against a proven animal like Cormier. This is important to understand when soaking in my next statement.

 

Patrick Cummins can still make a name for himself in the UFC's 205-pound division. 

Will he become champion? Probably not. But the dude can fight, and he's putting in the time and effort to improve, and he's surrounding himself with the right people at MMA. That's a good start. 

Now, he just needs to get more comfortable on the big stage and face more reasonable opposition. As B/R lead writer Jonathan Snowden pointed out before the UFC 170 co-main event, Cormier vs. Cummins does not make sense. It's insane. 

One does not simply quit his job as a barista, walk into the UFC and dispatch of a top-5 fighter and world-class athlete like Cormier. 

That said, Cummins isn't a nobody in the athletic realm. He's a former Division I standout wrestler, and he was previously undefeated in his MMA career, boasting a 4-0 record over questionable opposition

His Octagon jitters should be thoroughly flushed now (thank to Cormier's sledgehammer fists), and with a full training camp in his next fight, we will be able to gauge Cummins' ceiling more accurately. Thankfully, he's in one of the promotion's shallowest divisions, and names like Ryan Jimmo, Anthony Perosh and Ilir Latifi await. 

The step from names like those to Daniel Cormier is considerable, and Cummins' full worth can be showcased as he takes on this lower echelon of UFC light heavyweight talent. 

 

He didn't look that bad...

He lost in 80 seconds. 

He got knocked out in under two minutes.

He didn't last a full round. 

I get it. The bottom line in this fight is bad for Cummins.

The results weren't pretty, but what we did see of Cummins was not terrible. It was actually better than I had expected. 

Cummins flicked a nice, sharp jab in Cormier's face, and he scored with low kicks against the former heavyweight fighter, notching eight significant strikes during his quick debut. 

Unfortunately, he failed on all three of his takedown attempts, but these came largely in desperation after getting clipped with hard shots from "DC." 

The takeaway here is that Cummins was unafraid and aggressive, and he looked quick and capable. 

And that he got caught. That part matters, too, I suppose. 

 

How good can he be?

This remains to be seen. 

Before the fight, Cummins told Bleacher Report in an interview that he had signed a multi-fight deal with the UFC, and Dana White, the promotion's president, reiterated this fact in a post-fight media scrum, saying (quotes via MMAjunkie.com):

"Yeah, we'll give him another fight. We'll give him a fight he can prepare for." 

Given his performance against Cormier, one would expect this fight to come against a name like Jimmo or Perosh, somebody who is not a top-10 talent. 

Until then, understand that Cummins was bested at UFC 170, but also understand that his performance against Cormier may not be an accurate reflection of his overall skill set. He got caught against a far superior opponent, but his early signs of offense and his stacked wrestling credentials tell me that there is something there. 

He may not even sniff championship contention, but Cummins can be a solid gatekeeper for the UFC's 205-pound class. 

 

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