Zak Cummings is a veteran of the sport. He is 34-years-old and has 28 professional fights to his credit.
When he joined the UFC ranks in 2013, Zak Cummings spent his entire time at welterweight so that he could be bigger than everyone else. However, after struggling with hard weight cuts for years, Cummings eventually had enough and decided to move up to middleweight.
“I’m getting older, the weight cuts are not getting easier,” Cummings said to BJPENN.com of why he made the move to middleweight now. “The last few were very stressful, hard, just done with it. It is one of those where I’m questioning is the juice worth the squeeze. I don’t know if it really was. It is nice to be a lot bigger than all these other welterweights, but the couple fights I did lose it was a speed thing.
“I just didn’t think I was getting as much out of it anymore. I have a daughter now, she is a little over one. You start thinking about stuff, just didn’t want to be one of those guys who died from cutting weight. It just really wasn’t worth it. Just over it, honestly.”
Ultimately, a big reason why Cummings didn’t move up sooner was the worry he would lose power and be smaller than the other fighters. However, after seeing teammate Anthony Smith move up and have success, he knew the time was now to move up to middleweight.
“It was definitely a factor,” Cummings said of teammate Anthony Smith’s recent success after moving up a weight class. “Anthony going up and doing what he did and one of my best friends and teammates in James Krause moving up to welterweight. He was one of those where we were really worried about the power and the strength. Anthony, we weren’t worried but James that was a factor and he goes out and hurt his opponent and finished him on the feet. After seeing him go through that and Anthony in those two guys moving up and doing well it made me feel better.”
Even though Smith and Krause had success moving up, it still could have been different for Cummings. In the end, however, he felt just as strong and just as big as his opponent.
“Just as strong as ever. I went into the cage like a four or five-pound difference,” he said. “When I fought at 170, I still got all the way up to 200, or over 200 on fight night. At 185 I was 204 or 205, so I felt just as strong.”
The future for Cummings is at middleweight. After years of hard weight cuts, he is glad to put that behind him. Now, the hope is other fighters will follow his path and fight closer to their natural weight. Zak Cummings scored a decision win over Trevor Smith in his middleweight debut and felt amazing while doing so.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 1/5/2019.