The PinPoint Muay Thai gym in Lynbrook was long and narrow. The overhead lights were turned off. The only illumination came from the sun’s rays shining through the windows in both the front and back of the gym.
Two students were learning various striking techniques. While putting together an eight-punch combination, one student confused the order and paused out of frustration.
An instructor, in glasses and a black bandanna with orange flames printed on it, offered insight to his discouraged student.
“Life lesson for martial arts: Don’t give up,” Luke Cummo told the student. “If you mess up, don’t show it. Just keep at it.”
This is just one metaphor Cummo, a former UFC fighter, tries to instill in the young martial artists he instructs.
“You don’t want to teach people that they’re going to tap out in life,” Cummo, 37, said. “To me, martial arts teaches determination, endurance, perseverance.”
Cummo never was submitted or knocked out by an opponent in his six-year professional MMA career (2002-08). He was the last fighter picked on Season 2 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” then surprised everyone by reaching the final. There, he lost to Joe Stevenson by unanimous decision.
Cummo was 6-6 overall, and 3-4 in the UFC. He lost his last fight at UFC 87 to Tamdan McCrory on Aug. 9, 2008.
Cummo, who grew up in New Hyde Park and now lives in Lynbrook, is developing what he calls Master Lukey’s League of Champions, a form of mixed martial arts that he believes will lessen the chance of injury.
League of Champions does not allow any head strikes. Competitors are fully padded. There are no finishes allowed. Submission moves are called “power holds” where a person can hold a position for a period of time without trying to injure the person.
“Some people have told me, ‘Oh, people like violence.’ I think people like action,” Cummo said. “The best fights are when two guys or two girls are going at it. I think that’s why my system is going to be a success. It is action-packed. When you have two people who are going to battle and they’re not worried about getting injured, they actually let loose a little more.”
Scoring is done on a points earned system based on moves executed, as opposed to the standard 10-9 scoring in boxing and MMA. Think more video game, less typical combat sports judging.
“To me, you put the time in, you’re automatically a champion, that’s why it’s the League of Champions,” Cummo said. “But we have to have somebody with a high score to make it interesting.”
Cummo said he’s planning his next League of Champions event for September. He is aiming to have 20 competitors, ranging from children to adults, each in their own division.
Cummo’s interest in finding a safer way to compete in mixed martial arts stems from his own experiences. He said he was treated for a brain injury in California for four months a few years ago and that he is now fully recovered.
He recalled his mindset from his fight against Jonathan Goulet at UFC Fight Night 5 on June 28, 2006. It was a series of three strikes to his head while he was on the ground.
“At that very moment, I said I don’t want to do this anymore, I just want to get out alive,” Cummo said. “I was crying in the cab on the way to the hospital.”
But as the weeks would pass and things settled down, Cummo would think about the money he could earn from another fight, and sure enough, he’d find himself back inside the octagon four more times before retiring in 2008.
Cummo was arrested for driving under the influence in October 2008, paid a $500 fine and performed 75 hours of community service. He and his wife divorced in 2009. They have two children, ages 8 and 10. He also faces a July 26 court date on two vehicle violation arrests from September 2015, according to Nassau County records.
Cummo remains focused on making his League of Champions a success. He spoke of touring all the gyms in the area to drum up interest in “the safest way to do MMA” as well as taking it national and setting up satellite schools, training manuals, moves lists, etc.
“I thought about getting another job,” Cummo said. “I’ve been doing martial arts so long, I don’t know anything else.”
|LUKE CUMMO’S UFC FIGHT HISTORY|
|Nov. 5, 2005||Ultimate Fighter Finale 2||Joe Stevenson||Lost by unanimous decision|
|April 6, 2006||UFC Fight Night 4||Jason Von Flue||Won by unanimous decision|
|June 28, 2006||UFC Fight Night 5||Jonathan Goulet||Lost by unanimous decision|
|April 7, 2007||UFC 69||Josh Haynes||Won by KO, Round 2, 2:45|
|Sept. 19, 2007||UFC Fight Night 11||Edilberto de Oliveira||Won by TKO, Round 1, 1:45|
|March 1, 2008||UFC 82||Luigi Fioravanti||Lost by unanimous decision|
|Aug. 9, 2008||UFC 87||Tamdan McCrory||Lost by unanimous decision|