It was hard to select just one person who inspired the WMMA community this year, so the committee decided to honor two of them.
Both of these athletes are inspirations in different ways. One mounted one of the biggest comebacks in female fighting history while the other helps keep the streets safe while putting on great fights in the cage.
Police Detective Ashley Cummins fought in Invicta only weeks after the the Ferguson riots settled down. InvictaFC president Shannon Knapp offered Cummins a chance to fight on another card, but Cummins didn’t want to disappoint the fans.
Cummins is usually quiet about what she does, but she is a prime example of a great police officer. She helps abandoned and abused animals, she has made several heroic saves in her career, and is a mentor to several young fighters in the area.
Our other award winner doesn’t know the word quit. Going 1-11 in her first 12 fights, she went on to win four straight, gain a title shot, and won seven of her past 9 fights.
Celine Haga has fought around the world and has been a staple of the female fighting community for six years. Any fighter who loses four or five fights might hang up the gloves or find something else. Haga hung in there and is now one of the hottest prospects in MMA.
Haga talked to us about winning the award and her advice to athletes.
Wombat Sports: We have seen you come back from a huge losing streak to winning some big matches. How did you keep going through the losses to keep fighting and not just giving up?
Celine Haga: Sometimes I don’t even know myself. They say never give up a thing that if you can’t go a day without thinking about, and that’s how I felt. I knew deep inside that i was better than what I’ve been able to show so far, and I didn’t want all my losses to be for nothing. I used to google “worst rec in history” wondering if my pic would show up. It didn’t, but I saw a lot of bad records out there and they had one thing in common; they never started to win. They just lost and lost and lost..used as stepping stones. I wanted to be an example that everything is possible with hard work and dedication. That even after 1-11 you can turn it around. It also encourage people who do lose a “few” fights to not to give up.
Wombat: What advice would you give to a fighter who have fallen on a bad point in their career?
Haga: Best advice is to learn from your losses, but don’t look where you don’t want to be. Focus on where you want to go next. Train hard. Be consistent. Stay focused!”
Wombat: Anyone you’d like to thank?
Haga: Would thank those who believed in me when things were not going my way, especial Jackson/Winkeljohn MMA, AACC, Joachim Hansen, Valhall Gym and my family and all my true friends who know who they are.