An anomaly is coming to Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship.
With no prior combat sports experience and at 40-years of age, Audra Cummings, a mother of four, is stepping into the squared-circle at BKFC 16 on March 19 in Biloxi, Mississippi.
As crazy as it sounds, it is not that crazy at all in Cummings' heart and mind.
“All these doors just started opening for me, and I wasn’t even knocking," Cummings said of the opportunity which recently presented itself. "It started two years when I got a phone call out of the blue from a guy named Eric Graham out of Graham MMA in Petal, Mississippi. He saw that I was a strength and conditioning coach and he was interested in me possibly instructing a few classes and helping out at the gym. I agreed and ever since then it has been evolving. I started taking kickboxing, and then jiu-jitsu. Eventually I started teaching kids jiu-jitsu, and then eventually I started doing fight camps with fighters in my gym. I did the whole thing with them, weight cuts, diet, two-a-days. I went through the whole experience with them, and then they hired me again as a strength and conditioning coach. I ended up doing four fight camps. I’ve done every single thing in the fight game except fight. I’ve trained like a fighter, eaten like a fighter, cut weight like a fighter, slept like a fighter, kept a fighter’s schedule… just because I felt that was what a coach was supposed to do.”
After getting a feel for combat sports, Cummings felt the urge to compete. The fire inside began to burn, but her options were limited.
“Doing MMA fights was out of the question because I have four children and I just can’t make it to jiu-jitsu class. I have a crazy schedule," she said. "The only thing I could do was boxing and kickboxing. I found out Bare Knuckle FC was doing tryouts in Plant City, Florida. Even though I live in Mississippi, I was born and raised in Plant City. Tryouts were 3-5 miles from my mom’s house. I was like ‘there is no way I am going to miss these tryouts.’
“I thought ‘I can at least give it a shot and say it was a cool experience, and I did it.’ I did the shadow boxing, the punch-o-meter, and had a great time."
Following tryouts, Cummings patiently sat by the phone, hoping to get the call she so desperately wanted.
"I waited, and waited and no-call came," Cummings said.
“Just call and tell me I didn’t make it,” she said as she recalled what felt like an eternity to her.
Frustration began to set in and Cummings wondered if her appearance had to do with her not getting the call, more than her lack of experience.
“I’m a 40-year-old mother of four. I am not tattooed up. I don’t have my head shaved,” she said. “I’m just a boring-middle-aged mom out of the suburbs. Put me in there. I’m relatable. Not everyone can relate to pink hair, dreadlocks, tattoos. Give me a shot.”
After about 20-some days, Cummings got that call. Well…. a text message.
BKFC matchmaker Nate Shook sent Cummings a text message asking if she would be willing to compete on March 19.
The fighter who will toe-the-line opposite Cummings in that contest is none other than Randine Eckholm, the woman who Britain Hart defeated before getting her KnuckleMania opportunity against former UFC star Paige VanZant.
“She is well-versed," Cummings said of future opponent. "She has a nice one-two. Her reach is very long. It appears as if she uses her reach to her advantage. She looks pretty tough. Britain got her pretty good but she lasted four rounds. She looks like a tough cookie with a nice, stiff, one-two.”
Understanding that the challenge in front of her will shape her future in combat sports, Cummings is not getting too far ahead of herself.
“I haven’t thought much past this fight," Cummings said. "This fight will determine the future. If I lose, I won’t be a sore loser. Depending on the experience, it will shape my outlook. Not everything has to be serious. I just want to fight have. Win or lose, I want to have fun. If I like it, let’s take it to the moon back.”
Headlining BKFC-16 is a lightweight grudge match between Leonard ‘Bad Boy’ Garcia, (18-13-1), fighting out of Lubbock, TX and Joe ‘The Hitman’ Elmore, (13-12), of Atlanta, GA.
Co-featured and making his BKFC debut, Former Boxing World Champion DeMarcus ‘Chop Chop’ Corley of Washington, D.C. clashes with BKFC veteran Reggie ‘Eaz-E’ Barnett Jr. of Virginia Beach, VA in a bantamweight bout.
Tickets for BKFC-16 are Now On-Sale starting at $55 and may be purchased through the BKFC website, www.bkfc.com. The Biloxi Civic Center is located at 578 Howard Street, Biloxi, MS 39530. Doors will open on the night of the event at 6PMCT with the first bell at 7PMCT.