St. Louis police officer and Invicta FC Straweight Ashley Cummins, returns September 6th, when she welcomes Alexa Grasso to the Invicta cage in a three round affair.
Corey Smith: Your entry in Mixed Martial Arts came after a soccer career filled with fights. How did it feel to finally find a proper outlet for your aggression? What was training like early on?
Ashley Cummins: Yeah I was getting into fights on the soccer field a lot. It felt good. I did Tae Kwon Do growing up, but the only thing I liked about that was sparring. On the soccer fields, I was the captain of my team. So if anyone ever cheap shotted any of my teammates, I would make sure to handle it, which is how I got into fights all the time.
AC: I knew all I wanted to do was fight. I was naturally just an aggressive athlete. I wanted to try mixed martial arts, so my sophomore year of college I gave up my soccer scholarship, in order to train full time. I fell in love with the sport immediately.
AC: Literally the first day, at the first MMA gym I trained at, I fell in love with the sport. It just felt right. I knew this was what I had wanted to do for years. I always thought, in my opinion, that MMA is the toughest sport out there. I wanted to mentally know that I could do it, that I could accomplish this goal that I have.
AC: I started training full time, and also being a student. Originally I didn’t jump into MMA, I did Jiu Jitsu, and then I did Muay Thai. I was at an MMA gym, but I separated it, to be able to get good at both aspects. Then of course I did wrestling as well. I had a couple Muay Thai fights before I had my first MMA fight, and also competed in some grappling tournaments.
AC: So when I started in my MMA career, I definitely had a lot of experience under my belt. I waited two and half years before I took my first amateur MMA fight, and within those two and half years I had 7 or 8 Muay Thai fights and probably competed in ten grappling tournaments. So I went into my amateur career with a lot of experience under my belt.
CS: This will be your first appearance in the cage in over a year; do you have any concerns of ring rust?
AC: Not at all. After my first fight for Invicta, I fought on a Saturday and that Monday I was back at the gym training already. I haven’t taken time off since my last fight. I spar a lot, so I don’t think ring rust is going to be a problem at all.
CS: During the layoff, what areas did you focus on to improve your skills? What was the layoff like for you?
AC: There was nothing specific that I focused on; I just went and trained every day over the past year. Normal training. I train all aspects of the game. I do boxing, Muay Thai, wrestling , Gi and No Gi Jiu Jitsu. I always want to try to be a well rounded fighter. I’ve trained all aspects since my last fight, and I definitely have improved a whole lot since my last fight. I am really excited to show the world my skills.
CS: What were your thoughts when you first heard the announcement regarding Invicta FC airing on UFC FightPass?
AC: I was very excited when I heard the news. I think it is going to open more opportunities for female athletes. It’s going to help show the world what Women’s MMA is all about. UFC FightPass is shown throughout the world, so it’s going to get more fans, and help the females out in every aspect possible. It will help the female side of MMA grow. I think that it was a great decision.
CS: Your opponent on September 6th, is undefeated Alexa Grasso. How familiar are you with Alexa, and what are your expectations for the bout?
AC: I know she is 4-0, and she is from Mexico. All of her fights have been at 125lbs; I don’t think she has ever fought at 115lbs. I have seen a couple of her videos, and she is a very talented fighter, but anyone that fights for Invicta is going to be talented. She is definitely a tough opponent, and I look forward to it.
AC: I never take easy fights. I always want to fight people that are going to push me, and help me become a better fighter. I think she is well rounded, and I think I am well rounded, so I think it’s a very good matchup. Invicta always has good matchups. All of the fights they put on are even and fair, and I am excited. I’m expecting Fight of the Night out of our fight.
CS: Who generally accompanies you to the cage? What type of feedback and coaching do you prefer from your corners?
AC: I am very blessed and I have a great coaching staff behind me. My MMA coach Steve Berger; he’s phenomenal. The best coach that I have ever worked with throughout my career. Very encouraging.
AC: Before fights, I’m nervous like everyone is, and he always calms me down. I’ve always put in the hard work for every camp I’ve had. During the bout, he’s very technical. I can hear him clearly in my corner, and he is very helpful during the fight with instructions. I think that I have been working with him for so long, that I can pick out his voice very easily.
CS: Aside from fight preparation, how much MMA do you watch purely for enjoyment?
AC: I work full time, and I train, so I don’t get to watch much TV. Every once and a while I’ll catch a couple friends and we will go up to Buffalo Wild Wings, and we’ll watch the UFC. There isn’t anyone in particular that I always have to see.
CS: Along with being a fighter, you are also a police officer. Which profession benefits the other the most?
AC: To be honest, I think that it’s about even. They both help the other in different ways. MMA training obviously helps my police work with staying in shape, so when people run from me or I get in a foot pursuit I’m always in great shape year round.
AC: It helps with self defense, when people resist arrest or try to attack me; my MMA has come in handy several times in the past four years that I’ve been an officer. I’m very thankful that I’ve always stayed safe and been able to go home to my family at the end of my shift.
AC: Being an officer helps being a fighter more so in the mental aspects. I patrol a part of St. Louis that’s pretty dangerous, a lot of gang activity, shootings and stabbings. I go into scary situations sometimes. Mentally you have to push forward. Whenever everyone else is running away from gunshots, I have to go towards them.
AC: That helps me in the cage, because in my mind, when I’m warming up for a fight, and about to go in the cage I think this is nothing like running towards gunshots. It’s a fight. It’s fun, it’s supposed to challenge you mentally and physically, and then the three rounds are up. The ref is there to make sure everyone is safe.
AC: When I’m on duty, you don’t know what’s going to happen; you don’t know what’s expected. Mentally the situations as an officer help me with being a fighter that it’s just a fight. It’s not life or death.
CS: Outside of police work, and MMA, you also enjoy being involved with animal rescue. How involved are you in Animal Rescue?
AC: I’ve been very involved with rescuing stray and abused animals my entire life, even before I was an officer. I do it even more now that I’m an officer because I patrol a poverty area of St. Louis, so there are a lot of strays running around. I volunteer for St. Louis Pet Rescue in St. Louis. I do a lot of volunteer work.
AC:When I’m on duty I’m always finding strays, or animals that have been abused. I take them to my house and rehabilitate them and foster them to find them great homes. It is definitely a huge passion of mine. Animals are defenseless; they don’t have a voice so we need to be their voice. It’s a big part of my life, and my family’s life.
AC:Anytime I can spread the word to stop animal abuse, I do it every chance that I get.
CS: Outside of the gym and MMA, what types of activities do you enjoy for fun? What helps you to relax?
AC: I’m a big movie buff. I love going to the movie theater, or chilling on the couch and putting on a good movie. It always relaxes me, and gets my mind off things. That’s probably the main thing I like to do if I’m not at work or training.
CS: Lastly, MMA takes a team to succeed alone inside the cage. Who would you like to thank?
AC: I want to thank my coaches and teammates at Berger MMA, and my strength and condition coaches at Victory Training. I want to thank Gracie Humata St. Louis for all their help.
AC: My manager, Hector Castro with Empire Sports Marketing.
AC: My sponsors; Fear The Fighter, XionX Band, Tussle Fight Gear, Fight Chix, Fear The Fighter Energy.
AC: And of course all my family and friends for always supporting me with my dreams.
Invicta FC 8 takes place September 6th live from the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri. The full card will air live via UFC Fight Pass. Click below for tickets, or to subscribe to UFC FightPass.