by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
In the early days of the International Fight League, the promotion needed its young fighters to step up and establish themselves as stars alongside the company’s legendary coaches to help establish an audience.
Among those who made an instant splash was heavyweight Devin Cole.
Back-to-back wins in his first two fights for the promotion quickly made him someone to watch, but then it all fell apart. Multiple losses quickly followed and Cole found himself out of favor with promotion, exiting a year before its eventual folding in 2008.
Nearly three years after his tumultuous IFL ride, Cole has been working hard to re-establish himself in the heavyweight division and appears finally ready to return to big stage.
As Cole himself told MMAWeekly.com, “Recently I got refocused.
“When I was with the IFL, I don’t know what happened. I was a better fighter, but I wasn’t fighting as good, if that makes sense. I got into a spiral effect where I just sort of lost my fire and I just wasn’t going out there to fight. I was just going through the motions.”
Cole continued, “Now I’m back on track, refocused, and trying to get back to the point where I can support my little boy. In my last seven fights I’m 5-1-1, and I avenged that loss and draw, have put a three-fight winning streak together, and am just trying to get more fights and get my name back out there.”
Cole admits that he got addicted to seeing his name in headlines and his fighting suffered for it. With those days gone, he says his motivation for fighting has clearly changed.
“I took a step back and refocused and looked at myself and now I’m fighting not because I want to see my name in lights, I’m fighting because I love it,” stated Cole. “I’m fighting because I want to make a better life for my family.
“I think I have a real good chance at that if I get a shot at a bigger show and get a chance to prove myself again.”
Able to fight at heavyweight and light heavyweight if given time to cut weight, Cole went on to explain what sort of skills he could bring to a promotion willing to give him a chance.
“Back when the IFL first started I was just a wrestler with a little bit of hands and a little bit of submissions,” he recalled. “I would just take people down and ground and pound. Now I feel like I can stand with a lot of the guys.
“I was an All-American wrestler in college, so wrestling is always going to be my base and fights will probably end up on the ground, but definitely I can stand up. I’m quick and agile. I’m not your typical big heavyweight that just stands in front of you and just does the bear dance.”
Having seen fighters he’s bested in the past get shots at bigger shows, Cole feels it’s only right he should get his opportunity as well.
“I feel like I’m ready for anything,” he said. “I’m watching guys I beat fight on Strikeforce like Mike Kyle – who I TKO’d in the second round – fighting on main cards of these bigger shows. He just fought Travis Wiuff on the main event on a show on HDNet, and I beat both those guys.
“I feel like I can compete with anybody, it’s just getting that break, getting my foot in the door (in order to prove that). I’m not going to turn down a fight. If anyone calls, I’ll fight anybody.”
Winning streak in tow and in a weight class in need of talent, Cole feels it could be the right time for him to return to the bigger shows and prove himself not the sum of earlier performances, but rather a viable commodity in the heavyweight division.
“I just hope to find a home; a bigger show that will stand behind me and let me fight for them and earn a spot,” he concluded. “Just give me a chance and I know I can do it.
“I’d like to thank everyone that’s followed me and supported me. Hopefully I’ll be back out there for people to watch me again soon.”