by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
When the IFL debuted earlier this year it was an opportunity for a lot of young, talented fighters to make a name for themselves on national TV. Among the early standouts was heavyweight Devin Cole of Maurice Smith’s Tiger Sharks team.
Fast forward a few months and Cole returns to the IFL on September 9th in Portland, Oregon with a new team, new coach, and a few new tricks up his sleeve against his former team and opponent, MMA veteran Allan Goes.
“I feel very good, I really like my new team, like my coach Matt Lindland,” said Devin to MMAWeekly during his final fight preparations. “I had some problems with Maurice Smith. [We] didn’t have quite the connection there that an athlete and coach should. So I’m looking forward to this season. The IFL is treating us really well and I can’t wait.”
When it comes to his split with Smith, Cole chalks it up to a lack of being on the same page and harbors no ill will towards his former coach.
“He’s actually a great guy, it’s just his training, the way he coached and the way I learn weren’t adaptable. Just personality conflicts, I wish the best to him, I’m just glad I’m not part of his team anymore,” commented Devin.
With the IFL heading into its second season of action, Cole looks to be one of the foundations to which the company will continue its growth. As Devin explains it, the treatment he got from the IFL more than warrants his return even though he got contract offers from other promotions in the off season.
“The IFL really helped me out a lot as a fighter,” explained Cole. “Because of them I got a UFC contract offer, which I turned down to stay with the IFL. They treated us real well. They came at us from the aspect of, ‘What can we do for you as a fighter?’ instead of, ‘What as a fighter can you do for us?’ I can’t wait to get this next season started.”
As for his opponent Allan Goes, Devin is familiar with Allan’s reputation, but feels he’s got the right strategy to pick up the win.
“I’ve never actually seen him fight myself,” admitted Cole. “I don’t watch a lot of tape on who I’m going to fight. I just go out there and fight my fight. I do know he’s a great submission expert, so I’m just going to go out there and just try to punch him in the face as much as I can to where he can’t throw those submissions on me.”
“I’m just going to go out there and try to make him quit. He hasn’t fought in a while so I hope that comes into play with me. I know he’s a great fighter, so I don’t think he’s going to give up. He’s well tested and has fought and lost to great people, so I hope I can be considered one of those great fighters who beat him,” added Devin.
When it comes to Cole’s new team, the Portland Wolfpack, Devin feels that they have a chance to go even further than his former team did in the league championship.
“I think we’re real good,” proclaimed Devin. “I think we’re better off than the last team I was on which made the finals of the first season. We’ve got some really tough guys. The Tiger Sharks are going to be tough to beat. Something that’s going to help us is that Dennis Hallman actually left the Tiger Sharks for the Canadian team. I think we can go all the way and win the tournament.”
Then there is Wolfpack Coach Matt “The Law” Lindland, a perennial Top 5 middleweight and a fighter that is known for being an absolutely relentless competitor at all times, even in training.
“Yeah that guy doesn’t care if you’re in a fight or practice, he’s going to want to knock the crap out of you,” said Cole with a chuckle. “I think that’s how I’ve earned his respect, he knows I’ll stand right in front of him and I’ll take his best and give my best back.”
Devin continued, “We’ve got probably 8-10 people [at Team Quest] that are Top 20 in the world kicking the crap out of each other day in and day out anywhere from 155lbs up to heavyweight. So if you can survive in that room you can survive anywhere.”
With top training and a fresh start for the second season of the IFL, Cole feels it will be just what he needs to continue to remain undefeated in the promotion and keep his star on the rise.
“First off I’d like to thank Darren and Lucinda Sparks, without them I wouldn’t be here to this point in my fight career…Matt Buffman also…and most importantly my wife, who’s allowed me to pursue this dream. For the fans, once you watch the IFL you’re going to be very, very surprised by the production they put on, whether it’s live or on FSN. They put on a very good show and I think it’s going to be one of the best shows, if not the best show in the US in the coming years. I’m going to go out there, do my best and hit this guy in the face until either the bell rings or he taps. So watch out, I’m excited and it’s going to be fun,” concluded Devin.