Words and photos by Aaron Nardi
Southern California's Rachael Cummins just signed with the XFC to represent the United States in their upcoming September 27th event. The international eight-woman tournament goes down in Sao Paulo, Brazil and will be televised in both Brazil and the US. With a professional record of 2-1-0 as a professional, Rachel will be stepping up to an undefeated Taila Santos in her home country. Rachael's skills and confidence keep getting better so it should make for a great bout.
Up until recently Rachael was spending most of her time training all disciplines at Reign in Lake Forest, CA. But she now dedicates the majority of her time to train solely with Jason Manly in his private Gracie Fighter Dojo in Newport Beach, CA. It seems that the switch has helped her find her stride, along with honing her jiu jitsu skills. Since training with Jason, Rachael has won her last two fights by submission including her most recent win over Michele Gutierrez in just 32 seconds with a flying arm bar.
Fightland: Why did you choose MMA over other sports?
Rachael Cummins: I played volleyball and basketball growing up and in college, but wanted to try something new, later in life. I've always liked all kinds of sports but really enjoyed jiu jitsu—competing by yourself, instead of on a team. It was a fun change. MMA is so rewarding when you win after all the hard work put into it.
Who introduced you to the sport?
I started doing jiu jitsu and competing every second I could. Women's MMA still wasn't that popular… but I started getting interested after seeing more feminine women fighting.
What is the most difficult part?
Getting up and training after being sick, run down, [and dealing with] injuries. The most difficult thing is having to work around all of that when you’re in camp. Sometimes it can get a little stressful, but you teach yourself to push through it all and become stronger mentally.
What do you think about the whole, "Female athletes who are attractive get ahead faster" thing?
Well first of all, I think anyone is capable of being "hot" or "badass." It's all about how marketable you are. Not just your looks, but also your personality and unique style of fighting. You need to separate yourself from the rest and not be like anyone else. Boring gets old fast!
Are you looking forward to new all-female TUF season?
I'm very excited because it will open more doors for me. The world will soon see how good the women are becoming!
Check out these related stories:
The Mixed Martial Arts of Victorian London
Before BJJ, there was Bartitsu.
Jonathan Maicelo: The Last Inca
Peru's up-and-coming boxing star.
Kron Gracie on Jiu-Jitsu, Skateboarding, Older Brothers, and Famous Fathers
The ties that bind are strong.
Joel Tudor on the Art of Surfing, Fighting, and Style
A surf icon helps MMA keep its sense of tradition.
Japan's Karate Kid: Kyoji Horiguchi
Japan's brightest MMA prospect.