Coming off a split-decision loss to Michel Prazeres at UFC Fight Night 129 in May of last year, middleweight Zak Cummings was looking to rebound against Trevor Smith this past December at UFC on FOX 31.
After three rounds, Cummings picked up a unanimous decision victory over Smith, and in turn secured his third win in his last four fights.
“Within the first seven seconds, the first punch (Smith) threw, hit me in the eye and actually shattered my orbital, so I was having trouble seeing pretty much the entire fight,” Cummings told MMAWeekly.com. “It’s one of those that you have to deal with it, kind of bite down, and move forward.
“I had some good things at the end and dropped him. I was really happy with the fight and really happy with the win, especially dealing with the orbital. We got past it and we got the win, so I’m happy with it.”
Having previously suffered the same injury in 2014, Cummings knew the kind of timetable he was working with as far as recovery went, but was nonetheless itching to get back to action.
“I’ve shattered my orbital before in the Gunnar (Nelson) fight,” said Cummings. “I got the surgery done and knew what to expect and knew how to handle my off-time a little bit better.
“With that surgery you can’t do anything, and you get antsy, because you want to work out and you want to train, but you can’t really do anything to raise your heart rate. As soon as I got cleared, I was in the gym and put the work in and tried to take a fight as soon as I was able to.”
Healed from his injury, Cummings (22-6) returns to face Trevin Giles (11-0) in a middleweight preliminary bout at UFC on ESPN+ 10 on Saturday in Rochester, New York.
“He’s a pretty powerful, explosive, opponent that likes to have a good time in there,” Cummings said of Giles. “I actually think it’s going to be a really fun fight with his mindset and my mindset going into the fight – just go in there and put on a show for the fans.
“I don’t know if he has seen an opponent as well-rounded as I am. I’ve fought guys at a much higher level. I think the vet in me will kind of come out and show the difference in there. I feel like I’m a little better everywhere and I’ll be able to expose him a little bit.”
Having had momentum halts in the past, Cummings would like to find consistency in his output going forward in the second half of 2019.
“That’s one of the big things moving up to 185 pounds; any time I had to think about taking a fight at welterweight I had to have a full-blown camp just to make the weight,” said Cummings. “Not that I don’t cut weight to 185 pounds, but it’s not as extreme.
“I can be a little busier, I can take fights on short notice, and I can stay in the public’s eye a little bit more. I want to stay consistent, keep building, and try to give myself another good little run. I’d like to get past this fight and get to those ranked opponents and Top 10 guys.”