“I made him cry. I broke him every time we wrestled, and on Saturday night I’m going to break him again.”
That’s what the recent barista and former All-American wrestler Pat Cummins promised the world on every microphone and TV camera put in front of him as of 10 days ago. The one-time wrestling teammate of Daniel Cormier promised to shock the world. He had a little over a week to bask in the glory of the media before reality was efficaciously and brutally thrust upon him.
In the short buildup to the fight against Cormier (who was originally slated to face Sugar Rashad Evans), Cummins repeatedly made allusions to making Cormier cry in the wrestling room. Not once did Cormier outright deny the accusation. Instead, he explained that it happened at a particularly rough time in his life and that it happened while Cummins and others where helping him prepare for a tournament by putting him through a drill known well to wrestlers as “The Shark Tank” (aka “Ironman”).
In the drill, one wrestler is pitted against several others, sometime in rapid succession, and other times as consecutive, unbroken matches against each. The trainee is the chum, while his teammates are the hungry sharks, there to devour weakness, fear, hesitation and all else standing in the way of glory. If done right, a wrestler grows in more than just his conditioning. The wrestler faces desperation and grows as a man, having learned to overcome that bleak moment. It’s a drill that has broken (and in the process helped build) champions at every level of wrestling. For Cummins to out Cormier like he did for self-aggrandizement and publicity was without a doubt a breach of trust and without honor. And in the end, it likely cost him not just an ass-beating, but the sympathy of many.
It took Cormier less than two minutes to close out the co-main event at UFC 170. Fighting for the first time at 205 inside the cage, he resembled the version of himself that faced the great Cael Sanderson back in 2001 for the NCAA Championship. He was quick, strong and lean (although not hard or ripped). Cormier seemingly carried his speed with him into the lower weight class and added some pop to his punches. With blows that honestly seemed half as hard as what Cormier landed against Big Country Nelson and others in the heavyweight division, he floored Cummins, who looked like he couldn’t have been paid to come up for more.
How might people have received Cummins’ demolition had he not campaigned for the fight with such braggadocio? It would have been much easier to point out that he was a newbie to the MMA game. After all, he only had four fights to his name. More writers might have suggested that he succumbed to the pressure of the bright, hot lights of the cage. But instead, Cummins just looks like a chump who took a much deserved ass-beating and then lacked the fortitude to accept the shortcomings of his fighting skills and character in a post-fight interview. No quarter is given honorless men. Not by this writer.
For Cormier, the opportunities abound. A title shot could even be in the cards sooner rather than later if Glover Teixeira gets injured before his scheduled April fight against the champion Jon Jones at UFC 172. Whoever is next for Cormier, he might do well not to wake the bear that Cummins rustled, lest he wishes to suffer a similar fate.
A former college wrestler, Taekwondo black-belt, and wannabe boxer, Paul Navarro (aka Fight Like Sugar) is now a full-time lawyer, part-time fight scribe, and high school wrestling coach.