Interview: Jinh Yu Frey on the Hunt for Gold at Invicta FC 24

Jinh Yu Frey
Jinh Yu Frey, Invicta FC 19. Credit: Esther Lin, Invicta FC

Women’s atomweight title contender Jinh Yu Frey returns to action at Invicta FC 24 July 15, going up against a highly motivated Ashley Cummins. It’s a fight that should thrust one fighter right back into the title hunt.

Last September, Jinh Yu Frey was in a heated battle with champ Ayaka Hamasaki. Frey had her mounted, had her in danger, and things were looking up early. Then late in the second round, Hamasaki opened up a cut on Frey that wouldn’t look out of place in any MMA bout. With so little time left in the round, it was one of those cuts that would usually be left for the cutman to tend to between rounds. Instead, the ringside doctor was called in, and the fight called off. A tough pill to swallow in a fight that was still very much up for grabs.

Cageside Press spoke to Frey ahead of her Invicta FC 24 bout later this month, where we talked about the Hamasaki fight, current opponent Ashley Cummins, and where atomweight fits in the bigger picture.

As far as that title fight against Hamasaki at Invicta FC 19 is concerned, Frey certainly found some positives. Among them, “that I am one of the top fighters in my division. That I was in there with arguably the best in the world and I had her on her heels, and had her in a lot of danger” she said.

Still, it was a rough stoppage, one Frey thinks came too soon. “I think it should have been let go” she said of the decision to wave off the bout. “There was like twenty seconds left in the round. At least give the cutman an opportunity to work on it.”

It’s hard to argue against her, especially when re-watching the fight. Many bloodied fighters have been allowed to carry on with far worse damage. “I feel like [the cutman] was able to stop the bleeding pretty quick. Head wounds, there’s a lot of blood flow in the head, and so head wounds always bleed quite a bit, especially because we were kind of in the clinch, and I was a bit leaned over so of course gravity is pulling that out as well. They always look a little bit worse than what they are, so I think the cutman should have had an opportunity to work on it” she continued. “If it was that bad, he could have easily just stopped it in the third. But give him a chance to work on it, give me a chance to work.”

The chance to work is what Jinh Yu Frey is looking for here, at Invicta FC 24. And for the time being, she’s happy to call atomweight her home. While champ Ayaka Hamasaki recently experimented at strawweight, and the division could be a back door into the UFC, Frey has more immediate goals in the 105lb weight class.

On a potential move up in weight, Frey told Cageside Press that “it’s been an idea that’s been kicked around; I don’t think I’m going to make any decisions on that until… I have this goal I’d like to finish, and it’s important to me, regardless of the fact that maybe I’d be getting more exposure or paid better or whatever in the UFC, I would be just another UFC fighter, whereas if I stay at 105, I can make this run at the title, and be a world champion.” That, she explained, is “really more important to me than having more widespread media exposure at this point.”

Besides, the UFC may not have its doors closed to atomweights for long, the way Frey sees it. “At this point, there’s only one division left to add in the UFC, and they seem like they’ve been adding them at a pretty good pace, so who knows, maybe by the end of the year they’ll end up adding the atomweight division anyway.”

In the meantime, there’s the Invicta FC title picture, and the belt Frey is looking for. Invicta FC President Shannon Knapp has referred to the bout between Jinh Yu Frey and Ashley Cummins as a title eliminator, but what’s the fighter’s take?

“I think it’s kind of up in the air, because they’re kind of going along with [Hamasaki’s] wishes” she stated. “Immediately after the [Invicta FC 19] fight, I was reassured I would get an immediate title rematch, but that wasn’t the case, because they’re letting Ayaka choose her own path, and she’s been wanting to fight up. Invicta’s done what they can, but they can’t make Ayaka fight at 105, so we’ll just kind of wait and see how things play out after this one.”

So the immediate focus will, of course, be on her Invicta FC 24 opponent, and the chips will fall where they may. Frey’s take on Cummins?

“She’s a really aggressive fighter, I think she’s a great fighter” summed up Frey. “I expect to see pretty much just her trying to bully her way forward and push me into the cage and work on her takedowns.” Of course, that won’t be easy, as Frey has not rested on her laurels in the months since her last appearance.

“I’ve been working on a lot of different things. A year is a long time to be out of the cage, but I haven’t been pilfering my time” she explained. “I’ve been spending a lot of time working on things I felt like I needed to work on, trying to incorporate some new things. For this camp I spent quite a bit of time out in Iceland, and right now I’m in Oklahoma City with Bellator’s Emily Ducote, just getting some really great training in with new partners.”

“I’ve definitely been putting in a lot of hard work, and hopefully in about two weeks, it’ll show.”

On the next page, we talk about training in Iceland, cancelled fights, and leaving her day job behind to focus on MMA.