Zak Cummings: I feared for my life cutting to welterweight

The trend of fighters moving up a weight class seems to grow by the day. Although much of the choice is due to needing a fresh weight class or desire to improve their abilities, there are obviously other reasons as well. As more research comes out about the dangers of weight cutting, there are more fighters opening up about how terrible their weight cuts used to be.

UFC 242’s Zak Cummings is one who has benefitted from moving up in both of these ways. On one hand, he’s 2-0 since moving up and knocking on the door of a top #15 ranking. However, according to him, there was a much more significant reason for the move.

“The biggest thing for me was that I was absolutely killing myself trying to get down to 170 lbs,” Cumming told The Top Turtle MMA Podcast. “I wish I was joking when I say I was fearing for my life.”

Although he shared the news with a laugh, getting down to welterweight was no laughing matter, which prompted some frank discussion to get him to move.

“It was a real thing. I had some bad weight cuts, I had some really close calls,” Cummings said. “Basically, just getting sick of that, plus a conversation with Marc Montoya at Factory X, my head coach.”

The change now only made him feel more healthy, but also helped him feel more free in the cage. The results speak for themselves.

“We decided to go up and it has definitely helped me a ton,” he said. “Mainly just the recovery. It’s pretty much fully me in there when I’m fighting, and when I was down at welterweight, my weight came back and I felt okay, but when it really came down to it, I wasn’t all the way there. I was always kind of holding back a bit – afraid to let myself go in case my body started shutting down or gassing out. I always had that kind of hindrance on me.”

Now feeling as good as he ever has, Cummings feels fast and is ready to make one last big run. The length of his career and his athletic prime is not something he overlooks, but recognizing that has brought a new seriousness to his career.

“I want bigger fights. I want bigger ranked guys,” he said. “I mean I just turned 35, I don’t know how much longer I have to go in the sport, so everything counts now… Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel right now, everything is a little more serious.”

(2:30 mark)

Zak Cummings fights Omari Akhmedov at UFC 242 on Saturday. Remember this event starts early:
PPV: 2pm ET on ESPN+
Late Prelims: 12pm ET on FX and ESPN+
Early Prelims: 10am ET on ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass

Author Daniel Vreeland is a co-founder of the Top Turtle Podcast, and a brown belt in Jiu-Jitsu at New England Submission Fighting in Amherst, Massachusetts.