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Looking to rebound from a tough loss to Santiago Ponzinibbio back in August, Zak Cummings is excited for another opportunity to fight in front of the passionate Irish fans. He is set to take on Alexander Yakovlev at UFC Belfast in Northern Ireland, marking his 3rd time fighting in Europe.

Cummings lost a back and forth unanimous decision to Ponzinibbio putting a halt on the momentum that he had built. He felt that he lost the fight but knew that it was due to his inactivity and lack of volume.

“I think I got stubborn a little bit with the stand up knowing that he couldn’t hurt me and that eventually I was going to hit him with a shot that was going to put him down,” Cummings said. “I was landing some good shots on him. I would give up 2-3 shots so I can land one which obviously might have lost me the close rounds. I don’t think the performance hurt me but it didn’t help me move up the rankings so I’m pretty excited to get back in there.”

After the loss, Cummings went right back to the gym to make sure he made the necessary improvements. He admitted that he wasn’t one to study tape which may have cost him his last fight. This time however, he made sure to focus more on his opponent during training camp.

“I think he’s a very game opponent and a really tough guy,” Cummings said on his opponent Yakovlev. “I think he hasn’t been finished since 2009 including a fight with Demian Maia who obviously is one of the best submission guys in the game so that’s pretty impressive.”

“I think he’s probably more dangerous as a striker but I’m very confident in my striking and I don’t think he has the power to hurt me. I think I’m just really stubborn in the fact that I don’t think I can get knocked out but I know it can always happen. I’ve been hit with a lot of hard shots and it’s going to take a lot for it to happen. Technically I think I’m better everywhere but he’s a game opponent and there’s no quit in him.”

Having fought in Dublin back in 2014 against adopted son Gunnar Nelson, Cummings is excited to be fighting in Ireland again. This time, he’s fighting in Northern Ireland with Gunnar Nelson headlining the card versus Dong Hyun Kim. Cummings lost to Nelson via rear naked choke and despite the loss; he’s excited to go back and continue growing his fan base.

“I’m so excited and I’ve been begging to go back to Ireland. Now that I’m fighting some guy from Russia, I feel I’m the hometown favourite (laughs) and I’m really excited because I never heard a crowd this loud and it was insane.”

Training and running the Glory MMA Northland gym in Kansas City, Missouri, Cummings spends most his time teaching classes and training at his gym. He often trains with fellow UFC fighter James Krause who runs the Glory MMA gym in Lee’s Summit. Although spending most of his training camps at home, he often travels to get different looks at other gyms. This time he’s traveling to Denver to train with Chris Camozzi, who fought on the same card as him back in August in Salt Lake City.

“This fight we’re going to go up to Denver to Factory X. Alexander is a 6’3’’ southpaw and I’ve got Chris Camozzi up there who is basically going to be acting as a perfect body style for me and he fights a week after me in Australia so he’ll be ready to go.”

A win over Yakovlev will put Cummings back on the winning end as he had previously picked up impressive back to back wins over Dominique Steele and Nicolas Dalby. He has learnt a lot from his setback to Ponzinibbio and is confident that he has all the tools to beat Yakovlev next month in Belfast.