Looking back on his first fight of 2019, middleweight Zak Cummings feels like there were some areas he could have done better in, but was overall pleased with how the bout turned out.
Facing Trevin Giles at UFC on ESPN+ 10 in May, Cummings was able to outlast his opponent and pick up a late third round submission victory.
“I was definitely happy win and get a good finish over an up and coming fighter (in Giles) that had a lot of hype behind him,” Cummings told MMAWeekly.com. “I felt good. I would have liked to have seen me have a little more volume and more control throughout the fight, but I felt like I was winning the fight.
“I got the win and getting the finish was a bonus. I’m happy with it. It definitely gave me some insights that I can learn from as well.”
Now 12 years into his career and on the precipice of fight number 30, Cummings admits he has to make some adjustments for his age and the wear and tear he’s encored during his career, but feels like he’s learned to be a smarter fighter and it has helped with his longevity in the sport.
“I think I’m a much smarter fighter right now,” said Cummings. “I just turned 35, I’m getting older and my body is starting to feel affects a little bit more, so I think it’s forcing me to be smarter with my training.
“I actually feel it’s a benefit to the type of fighter I am now. Before I just put my head down and kind of went through everything, but I’m more methodical with my game plans and the way I’m training and all that stuff now. I think it’s benefited me.”
At UFC 242 on Saturday in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Cummings (23-6) will look to pick up his third straight win when he faces Omari Akhmedov (18-4-1) in a preliminary 185-pound bout.
“I feel like Omari is a very tough opponent,” Cummings said. “He has a very wide skillset. He’s got a lot of strength and power. His pressure is very overwhelming for a lot of people. He’s not afraid to wrestler and put work in on the ground as well.
“I feel like where he’s good I’m very dangerous at. I feel like I’ve got a lot more finishing tools for this fight. My submission game, I do have power in both hands, and he’s really good at pushing the pace and I’m really good at slowing down fights. I feel like stylistically I’m a very bad match-up for him.”
With a bevy of potential middleweight match-ups for him should he pick up another win on September 7, Cummings is looking forward to getting back into the Octagon and seeing what’s next for him.
“At the beginning of the year I really wanted to get three fights in,” said Cummings. “I got my one in and this will be the second one, so if I can get through this fight and be healthy and get a quick turnaround fight for November or December that would help hit the goal of the numbers I wanted to get in.
“Me being at welterweight was kind of the big hindrance for me for not being as consistent and busy. The middleweight thing is a lot better physically, emotionally and mentally. It’s a little less exhausting. If I can get a Top 15, Top 10, opponent next we’ll see how it goes, but everything has to get past this opponent without injury to meet those goals.”