Late last year, Zak Cummings (20-5) got back to winning ways after submitting Alexander Yakovlev at UFC Fight Night 99 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Now he gets to fight in his hometown of Kansas City. Facing off against him at UFC on FOX: Johnson vs. Reis is Nathan Coy (15-6).
Cummings - a cast member on The Ultimate Fighter: Team Jones vs. Team Sonnen - is 5-2 in the UFC (with losses to Santiago Ponzinibbio and Gunnar Nelson). Coy, who appeared on TUF: ATT versus Blackzilians is 1-1 in the promotion. Though he respects Coy as a fighter, Cummings admitted to being surprised, and a little disappointed, at being matched up with the Strikeforce and Bellator vet.
“I think this matchup came about just because I begged to be on this card, in my backyard here in Kansas City,” Cummings told Bloody Elbow. Three of Cumming’s seven UFC fights have taken place in Europe, which he enjoyed well enough. However, when the Missourian learned that the UFC was coming to his home state for the first time in their history, he made it clear to the brass that he wanted to be a part of it.
“I basically begged to be on the card. I asked for multiple names, I was asking for guys like Alan Jouban and Jake Ellenberger. Guys who were exciting strikers, guys who I thought would strike with me and who I thought would be exciting fights for my home crowd. When I got that call and was told I got Coy, I was like, ‘Well, that’s completely the opposite of what I was thinking,’ but I was more excited to get on the card than I really was with the matchup.”
Despite being underwhelmed with Coy as an opponent, Cummings expressed some admiration for what the American Top Team product does in the cage. “Coy is very very tough,” said Cummings. “I’ve known about him for years. He just came into the UFC with The Ultimate Fighter show, but he’s been in Strikeforce, Bellator, he was champion in Maximum Fighting Championships, he’s been around the sport for years and years and years, and he’s always been a top fighter.”
Cummings also stated Coy is due some respect for how he performed versus current UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, when the two met in 2010 at Strikeforce - Challengers 8. The Chosen One was victorious that day, thanks to a split decision.
“If you stand in front of him, and if you let him land his punches into his takedowns and get on top and control you with ground-and-pound, then you’re in trouble,” continued Cummings. Though he praised what he sees as Coy’s strengths, Cummings did express doubt over whether Coy can do anything else.
“I’ve known about him for a long time and I’ve respected him for a long time, but I feel like the sport has evolved past him and that I’ve continued to evolve in the sport,” said Cummings. “I feel that my striking is better. Our wrestling is close. I feel like if it was a straight wrestling match, maybe he might beat me, but MMA-wise I think I’m very competitive there. I think he’s very controlling on the ground, but when it comes to the danger factor of submissions; then I’ve got the advantage there too.”
Another factor which Cummings said might affect the outcome of the fight is the age gap between him and Coy. At 38 years old, Coy is six years older than Cummings. However, Cummings believes the age difference might be mitigated by Coy’s fighting style.
“I think it could play a role in the fight, but I’m not banking on it and saying, ‘Hey he’s older, it should be easy,’ because his style is a grinding style. And it’s not like he has to move a lot,” said Cummings. However, he did state that how many ‘wars and battles’ Coy has been through, both in competition and outside - while training at ATT - could make more of a difference than Coy’s actual age.
Ultimately Cummings believea there is a skill divide between him and Coy and that will be what wins him the fight. Cummings, who has finished 15 of his 20 professional victories, is also confident that he can get the stoppage on Saturday night.
“I feel like; if I go out and fight like I can, and be athletic, and just do the things I do everyday, then I should be able to finish the fight and finish him. But if I go out there and stand in front of him and stay flat-footed; it’s going to be a bad night. So, he’s a dangerous guy, but I feel like I definitely have the tools to beat him.”
Cummings versus Coy is the second fight of the night on Saturday. Cummings revealed he was ‘kinda bummed’ to be booked so low on the card, considering he is a Kansas City resident. “I’ve got hundreds and hundreds of people coming out here,” said Cummings. “I know the UFC doesn’t really care about that - they care more about the TV deal. With the event starting on FOX it starts extremely early, so I just hope enough people are going to be at the venue to see me fight.”
If you’re not in attendance at the Spring Center in Kansas City on April 15th, you can catch Cummings versus Coy live on UFC Fight Pass. The Fight Pass early prelims begin at 4PM EST.