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Smashley eyes Invicta return

By Brett Auten | Knuckle Junkies

Ashley Cummins was dazed and confused.

It was October, 2012 and Cummins had lost to Joanne Calderwood at Invicta FC 3. It was Cummins’ first loss, ever. She went 8-0 as an amateur and was a 3-0 pro before she ran into the talented and decorated Scottish striker.

No lie, Calderwood did a number on Cummins, who at the time was considered one of the world’s best up-and-coming 115-pounders in the world. Calderwood (6-0) dotted Cummins early in the fight and eventually went on to win in the first round via KO. Calderwood’s accurate punching broke three bones broken under Cummins’ eye.

Post-fight, with her still-blind right eye Cummins would lie in the dark - because watching TV, much less driving was out of the question - to mull and reflect.

The 25-year-old worked diligently to carve out a nice, upstart career as a St. Louis County police officer and now one of her own true love’s, fighting, had reared its fickle head and instantly put everything in jeopardy.

“After the fight I went through a period where the surgery scared me a little bit,” Cummins said. “For an entire week I still couldn't see. I just kind of lay there, worrying about losing my job at that point. I was like, if my vision doesn't come back I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life. And even if it does come back, do I risk it again?”

It was during Cummins' two months recovery away from everything that she came to the conclusion:

“I love being a police officer but I love being a fighter and I know if I don’t fight again, 10 years from now I’ll look back at it as ‘What if I would have continued with fighting?”

So now, with a metal plate surgically placed under her eye, she’s back at it.

Saturday at Invicta FC 6 in Kansas City will mark Cummins (3-1) return to the cage. Here she will face Emily Kagen. This will be Cummins’ third fight for Invicta, the all-women’s promotion that continues to gather both the world’s finest fighters and is reportedly luring the eye of Showtime. Kagan (2-1) is a product of the famed Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, headed up by coach-to-the-stars, Greg Jackson. She brings many of the same tangibles to the table as Cummins.

“We’re both coming off losses,” Cummins said. “We’re both aggressive and we both want to come back with a win.”

Kagan has likely seen tape on Cummins’ last go-around, her opponent has not. Cummins has yet to watch the Calderwood fight and there are no plans for a screening anytime in the future, if ever.

“I know what happened in the fight, I remembered what happened,” Cummins said. “To be honest, the main reason why I’m not going to watch it is that I was fighting impaired the whole time. My vision got screwed up in the first 15 seconds and I know that wasn't me in there.”

Calderwood has continued to make waves in the sports and will also be on the Invicta FC card.

“She’s kicking ass and I respect her a lot,” Cummins said. “I took a lot away (for that fight) as far as learning a lot by myself and the struggle I could go through.”

Near the start of the year, Cummins joined up with Fit or Fight/Berger’s MMA, home to Steve Berger and his current wrecking crew of up-and-coming fighters and coaches. Berger and Nick Zona will work her corner on Saturday.

“I’ve learned so much here and I’ve grown so much as a fighter,” Cummins said. “I feel like I’m good wherever the fight goes. I think my stand-up, my ground is better my wrestling has improved tremendously at this gym. I feel ready. I’ve gotten so much better. I think I’m a new fighter and that I’m going to look a lot better than I have in my previous two Invicta fights.”

Cummins also took a few road trips, including up to Warrior Concepts in Springfield, IL, where rising star Tamikka Brents calls home, plus a trip to South Carolina.

“Lots of cross training with pro female fighters, that was the first time I’ve done that,” Cummins said. “I think in another year, Tamikka will give Cyborg a run for her money.”

Saturday’s event at the Ameristar Casino is highlighted by the Chris Cyborg vs. Marloes Coenen main event. It also features plenty of bouts in Cummins’ 115-pound weight division.

“Invicta, I don’t know how they do it,” Cummins said. “They create these awesome matchups and are always willing to fly girls in from Asia or Europe. There are such talented athletes on the card. It’s just an honor to be on the same card as a lot of these girls because I grew up watching them.”