Luke Cummo – An Interview with the Mixed Martial Artist Known as the Silent Assassin

From the desk of Billy Hofacker:
11/04/05 Friday, 9 AM

Luke Cummo

Luke Cummo began martial arts at the age of 15. He was drawn to the art of Kung Fu after watching “Enter the Dragon” and having aspirations of being like Bruce Lee. At age 19 Luke switched training academies and began studying Jeet Kun Do under Ray Longo. Ray Longo, who also teaches kickboxing, encouraged Luke to begin competing after a few short years. Through Ray Longo Luke met the world renowned Serra brothers and furthered his martial arts career.

Matt Serra was approached by Dana White, the President of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) for a possible student who would be a good fit the 2nd season of The Ultimate Fighter reality show. Luke applied and the rest is history. Talk about being proactive! Luke’s record was 4-1 prior to the show and he was 2-0 on the show for a total of 6-1. The 2 wins on the show were very impressive.

Luke participated in a reality television show in which 16 fighters were chosen to live in a house. The fighter were split into two teams and had to participate in team challenges as well as one on one fights. The losers of the fights were forced to leave the house until there were only two fighters left from each weight class (welter and heavy). Luke was one of the last men standing.

I got a chance to talk to Luke and do an amazing interview with him a few days prior to The Ultimate Fighter Finale. Luke called me from Vegas at around 11 PM Eastern time. He was worried that he woke me because it was so late. Fortunately I wasn’t asleep yet and Luke had just finished a 3 hour training session and was on his way to retire back to his hotel.

On with the interview:

Billy Hofacker (BH): Luke, your eating habits were quite different from the other fighters. Please explain.

Luke Cummo (LC): When I was 20 years old I got sick with a pretty bad illness. It was either mono or tonsillitis. Since then I started researching a healthier diet. I got into fasting and learned all about how to eat organically. I believe in a holistic approach. I do eat meat though because I feel it helps me with aggressiveness as a fighter.

As I drove to the fighter’s house in Vegas my trunk was heavy with things like dried rice and beans, garlic, onions, sea salt, and various teas. To get down to my fighting weight of 170 I needed to be really strict. I also avoided dairy products.

Most of the other fighters adhered to a typical American diet consisting of a lot of steak and sandwiches.

BH: My perception was that at first you were shown a lack of respect. How did that affect you if it all?

<>BLC: I didn’t feel disrespected because most of the talking was done behind closed doors (Luke didn’t know much about it until it actually aired). Also I don’t look like a fighter with the exception of my cauliflower ears. I think the underestimation helped a bit because it enabled me to fly under the radar and get a couple of good match ups…do some damage. I also helped my team win some challenges.

BH: What is a typical day of training like in Vegas?

LC: Instead of doing doubles which I have been doing all along, I’m only doing one intense workout per day. My first day here (in Vegas) the doctor told me to only do a 10 mile walk just to get used to the area and atmosphere. My training now includes striking, grappling, and sprinting. My main goal is to create muscle memory with all of the techniques. It’s still intense but I’m tapering down now as I get closer to Saturday.

BH: What is your mental strategy and is that a big factor for you?

LC: Actually it is. I work a lot with our sports medicine doctor, Sheryl Wulkan on the mental aspect. Sheryl works with members of the local professional sports teams as well as some of the U.S. Open competitors. She helps athletes like myself stay focused using visualization techniques.

What I do is picture myself mentally in a variety of scenarios. I envision myself in bad predicaments and escaping to come out on top. I also picture the opposite like seeing myself attacking. Another big factor is dealing with the crowd. I take myself to a place mentally where the crowd is energizing me every step of the way. This way no matter what happens on Saturday; I will have already been there in my mind.

(Before I ask the next question, Luke asks me to hold on and I hear him telling the cab driver as tactfully as he could to extinguish his cigarette).

BH: What did you learn from your experience, from the other fighters, and what advice can you give to anyone reading?

LC: One thing I learned is the type of conditioning I need to compete at this level. We trained for as much as 6 hours a day. The level of conditioning is extremely high and I was already pretty well trained. Although I didn’t learn too much from the other fighters, I did learn some techniques and strategies from the coaches. It was an interesting and positive experience meeting and hanging out with people from different areas of the country and world.

My advice to people would be to have a goal in mind and focus on taking it one step at a time. When you take a huge obstacle and break it up into many smaller goals while keeping the end goal in mind, the process will seem much quicker and it will be more enjoyable.

BH: Luke among your many one liners, you mentioned on the show that “I may be a geek but geeks run the world.” What the heck did that mean?

LC: Look at Bill Gates.

BH: What are your interests other than fighting?

LC: I am very much into cooking and nutrition. I also enjoy drawing, reading comic books, and collecting action figures. With my added notoriety from the show I look forward to creating my own persona with self created T-shirts.

BH: Thanks for a riveting discussion and for taking the time out of your busy day. I really appreciate it. My subscribers and I will be rooting you on from our living rooms Saturday night at 9PM on Spike.

LC: Awesome. Thanks Bill.

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