The last time we heard from Wayne Cole, he was preparing for the biggest moment in his life.

Cole, who trained at All Stars Gym in Moore, was set to fight Josh Rhodes for the National Light Heavyweight title in the Cage Fury Championships last year. It was a fight that Cole said could change his life.

Well, it didn’t go as Cole had planned. He was TKO’d in four minutes and 28 seconds. The future he had pinned on the fight was seemingly gone that quick.

“I was worried about losing my place on the team,” Cole said. “You never like to lose or get knocked out. I wasn’t in the shape I should have been in.”

However, instead of losing his ride, Cole caught the attention of the Tokyo Sabres of the International Fight League.

“The coach called me needing a heavyweight,” Cole said. “Their heavyweight got hurt. So he called and asked me to come out to California. I sent him some tapes, practiced with the team. It was a done deal. I signed a contract that day.”

The IFL is the first team-based professional mixed martial arts league. Its fighters combine elements of boxing, kickboxing, submission grappling and wrestling to win matches by knockout, submission, or judges’ decision.

Each team has five fighters ranging from lightweight to heavyweight. Matches consist of up to three four-minute rounds, fought inside a five-roped boxing ring. The team that wins the most individual fights wins the match.

Of the 12 teams in the IFL, only four advanced to the IFL Battle Ground postseason, which starts Thursday. The No. 3 Sabres will take on the second seeded New York Pitbulls in one semifinal match at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, NJ. The Top-ranked Anacondas host No. 4 Silverbacks in the other semi.

The winners will face off Sept. 20 in Hollywood, Fl. for the IFL World championship. If the Sabres can make it that far, Cole will have an opportunity to win his first title of any sorts since he took up professional fighting.

“It is big time,” Cole said. “The people who make it to the finals will be on live TV. They get rings and $10,000 each. That’s a lot of money for a kid from Oklahoma.”

But first Cole and the Sabres have to get past the Pitbulls, who they did not face during the regular season.

“I think we will dominate them,” Cole said. “I am confident we can win four of the five matches. The guy who had been losing is out for this fight. Everybody else is healthy. The New York guys don’t like to stand up and punch. Our game plan is to knock them out while they want to get us on the ground.”

Cole describes himself as an aggressive striker. And even though he has a wrestling background that includes a stint in college, he would rather trade punches with his opponent.

“You can’t damage a guy wrestling as much as you do standing toe-to-toe,” Cole said.

Cole (14-4) will fight the Pitbull’s Bryan Vetell (2-2). The match will be replayed Aug. 20 on FSN.

Win or lose, Cole said he knows he is fortunate to be in the position he is in. At 36-years old he now lives in Pasadena, CA. in the same suburban neighborhood as a couple of his teammates.

When Cole steps back and looks at what he has been able to accomplish, he can only smile.

“Last night I had a sleepless night thinking about it all,” Cole said. “I have my fate in my own hands. It’s a blessing. I didn’t think I could be here.”

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