Cole Abate, once upon a time the favorite to become the youngest ADCC champion at 66kg, is back with a vengeance – and he looks forward to taking on fellow ADCC 2022 alum Josh Cisneros on November 11 at Who’s Number One.
“I think Josh’s best skill is his explosiveness and ability to get to good positions from submission attacks,” Abate tells the Jiu-Jitsu Times.
Nevertheless, Abate believes he has the answers to shut down Cisneros’ game. “I believe I have a strong understanding of setting the pace I want in my matches where my opponents are constantly reacting,” he says. “I will try to put him in scenarios where I am the one with the advantage, and that will take him out of his comfort zone.”
The fact that these two are former ADCC 2022 bracket-mates adds an extra dimension of interest to their hotly anticipated WNO showdown in November. Abate, who’s known for his diligence when it comes to studying his opponents, had already done plenty of homework on Cisneros prior to the tournament.
“My goal was to raise my technical level as high as I could leading up to ADCC, so that I’d be prepared for all the competitors at 66kg,” says Abate. “I studied my entire division and tried to focus on becoming the best version of myself, so that it didn’t matter who I had to face [in the] first round.”
“I knew Josh was a tough opponent who had already competed against many of the other competitors and had the potential to take out some big names,” he adds. “So I was prepared for a potential matchup [against Cisneros] in the first [round] – or even further into the bracket.”
Abate, prior to ADCC 2022, had been touted as the probable champion at 66kg by multiple luminaries of the sport, including multiple-time world champion and ONE flyweight king Mikey Musumeci. The heavy odds in the teen phenom’s favor created a shocking upset when black belt world champion Fabricio Andrey eliminated Abate from contention in round one.
However, Abate refuses to let the loss get under his skin. “Losses are a part of the sport,” he points out. “Although disappointing, I gained lots of experience from facing the black belt world champion in my first match, and it motivated me, knowing that I belong fighting against the highest level guys.”
Abate’s also excited to show off what he’s been working on since Las Vegas. “I’m looking forward to showing the adjustments I’ve made for this match with Josh,” he says.
He’s also hoping to get one back against Andrey one of these days, though he’s biding his time for the moment. “We both compete a lot, so I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we face each other again,” Abate points out, and promises: “When the time comes, I’ll be ready.”
Despite being lauded as a prodigy for most of his adolescence, Abate remains humble, recognizing his own space for growth. He’s still hungry for learning experiences and formidable opponents, hoping that they’ll shape his development at the color belt ranks before he truly hits the big leagues at black belt. “Aside from my upcoming match at Who’s Number One on November 11th, I’m looking to stay as active as possible in both gi and no-gi in order to gain as much experience as I can before I get to black belt,” he says. “I’ll be announcing my next challenges as they get closer.”
Competition experience aside, Abate is also passionate about developing himself as a teacher. “I’ve been focusing a lot on my teaching and leadership skills within the academy,” he shares.
Being such a youthful competitor and growing up in the sport has equipped him with a lot of empathy for other young jiu-jitsu students. “At AOJ, I have the chance to work with the next young champions and help them reach their goals,” Abate explains. “I see a lot of myself from when I was a kid, and I remember the people around me that brought me up and invested in my potential.”
Abate hopes to pay it forward: “I look forward to doing the same in the coming years, and seeing what some of these kids will be doing in a short time from now.”
Don’t forget to follow Cole Abate on Instagram and tune into Cisneros vs Abate – along with several other explosive WNO matches – on November 11, streaming from FloGrappling.