I spoke with the young colored belt World, Pan-American, and European champion Cole Abate on his recent victory at ADCC East Coast Trials. We talk about his goals for the future, ADCC 2022 preparation, MMA prospects, and more.
Having secured your position in the 66kg bracket – is there anyone in particular you hope to have a match with?
Cole Abate: I know my division will be full of some of the best guys in the world at that weight class. I’m looking forward to matches against the competitors with world titles and other high-level achievements at the black belt. Those are the fights that interest me most.
Will you be competing in the Absolute division come September?
Cole Abate: This year I don’t plan on competing in the absolute division. This will likely be my last time competing in the 66kg category since my goals are to grow as much as I can before I’m competing in the black belt division in a few years. Eventually if I’m able to reach a good size, and I feel confident in my abilities at winning the division, you’ll definitely see me in the absolute division.
What was your preparation for Trials like? Is there anything you think you will be changing for your ADCC camp?
Cole Abate: My professors and I had a very well planned preparation that was obviously focused mainly on nogi, but I was still training in the gi the entire time as well. I would train multiple times per day in both, and even got to train 1-on-1 with Professors Gui and Rafa on a daily basis, who are both already very experienced with the ADCC rules and strategies. The camp for September will be the same that I did for the trials, and I’ll continue to study and be more familiar with the ruleset for the competition.
How do you structure your training in a normal week?
Cole Abate: I start training in the morning at 6am, and finish the first class at 7am. Then starts the competition training, which is the most intense session of the day, and I train until 8am. The last class of the morning runs from 8am-9am, which is led by Professor Gui. Later on, I have a workout from 11am-12pm with a personal trainer [at] a gym called Proactive. I then drill techniques and do specific training in the afternoon at 2pm before I start teaching at the academy. I’m still a student so I squeeze in my studies between classes and at night when I’m done teaching and training for the day. Weekends if I’m not competing are used for rest, recovery and studying film.
You have amazing coaches at AOJ – how does it feel to be competing in the same ADCC division as Rafa did in 2009, 2011, and 2013?
Cole Abate: It is very cool to know that my professor was competing, winning, and setting records in this division years ago. It definitely motivates me even more to do the same and win the championship this year at 17 years old. Professor Rafa was youngest to ever win the event at the age of 19, so for me to win this year would not be breaking his record, but actually setting a new one for my team with his help and guidance.
We’ve seen you achieve phenomenal success in the Gi as well having won World, Pan-Am, and European titles. Do you have a preference between Gi and NoGi?
Cole Abate: No preference, I love them both! I’ve always trained and competed in gi and nogi since the very beginning. I really enjoy studying and competing in both but one thing I definitely like a lot about nogi is it has given me the opportunity to face high-level competition while still being very young and a colored belt.
The AOJ Juveniles program has consistently been producing top level talent for years now with big names like yourself, Jessa Khan, Tainan Dalpra, and many more. What about the program do you think facilitates this sort of talent and success?
Cole Abate: A lot of the teams’ overall success in competition comes from my Professor Gui and Rafa having already been in our shoes. They were once young and talented kids with an amazing work ethic, which set them apart from the rest and allowed opportunities to come their way much easier. Having them as coaches who have been where I am today and where I want to be gives me confidence in their guidance understanding that they know the exact path to make it to the top. The environment they’ve created at Art of Jiu-Jitsu really provides the perfect atmosphere for a full-time athlete to reach their goals.
When previously asked if you’ve had an interest in pursuing MMA you’ve answered you are focused on your goals in Jiu Jitsu for now. Can you share some of your long term goals within the sport?
Cole Abate: I am fortunate to train with MMA and UFC fighters to help them get ready for their fights. In fact, I’ve been training with Chito Vera in his preparation for his last few fights and I really enjoyed working on the ground with him using gloves and adding punches. So I haven’t ruled MMA out, just not right now, who know’s, maybe you’ll see some combat jiu jitsu first.
Right now I’m working towards building my name as competitor in both gi and nogi in search of winning the biggest titles multiple times in the two of them by the time I’m done competing as a black belt. I’m also focused on sharpening my skills as a coach and leader, which will empower me to one day have an academy of my own where my goals will be to give back to community and to inspire the next generation to find their passion when they’re young.