Many grapplers dream of getting the chance to compete at the main event of a major jiu-jitsu competition against one of the sport’s most illustrious athletes, and on Friday, December 8, that dream is going to become Marcelo Cohen’s reality. Cohen will be competing for the 125-lb no-gi title against Caio Terra at the main event of Fight to Win Pro 57 in San Jose, California, and although he describes the opportunity as an “honor”, he’s not just competing for the experience — he’s competing to win.
Cohen is, first and foremost, a professional. As the head coach at The Armory in Jupiter, Florida, he’s dedicated not only to his competitive career, but also the one he has teaching his students. When he does compete, he goes in, does work, and then prepares for whatever is next on his agenda. He’s not here to mess around, and even though many would consider him an “up and coming” black belt, he’s already started building a grappling resume that proves that whether or not you’re paying attention to him now, it’s only a matter of time before you have no choice but to hear his name.
Although Cohen considers his win at this year’s No-Gi American Nationals as his biggest accomplishment of 2017, he says that a victory against Terra would “certainly” take that spot if things go his way on Friday. “Caio has one of the biggest names in jiu-jitsu,” says Cohen, who’s also competed against top grapplers like Geo Martinez and Joao Miyao. “I feel like every fight has been a stepping stone to this event.”
Like Terra, many of Cohen’s most noteworthy victories have come in point-based IBJJF competitions — Cohen won No-Gi Pans in 2016, and in addition to American Nationals this year, he also took home gold at the Atlanta Summer International Open. But, also like Terra, Cohen is a ferocious submission hunter, which he proved earlier this year at his Sapateiro 11 super fight against Spencer Mumme. Both competitors are well-rounded and have proven their ability to adapt to various rule sets, so the sub-only format of Fight to Win isn’t likely to pose a unique challenge to Cohen. “I like to test myself with every rule set,” he says, adding that he doesn’t prefer one over the other when it comes to choosing between point-based or sub-only competitions.
Despite Cohen’s undeniable talent and extensive list of accomplishments, he’s aware of what he’ll be walking into when he steps onto the F2W stage. “He’s good at everything,” he says of Terra. “There isn’t anything you can expect from [him]. He can come with anything. There’s a reason he’s an eleven-time world champion.” Apart from training a bit more no-gi than normal, Cohen has prepared for this match just as he prepares for every competition, training hard and training smart.
As Cohen closes out another successful year with a match that’s guaranteed to make sparks fly no matter who comes away with the win, he’s already looking ahead to 2018. “You can expect to see exactly what I’ve been doing this year: consistent competition and testing myself against many high level competitors. My main short-term goals would be to receive another EBI invitation and travel to Brazil to compete in the Brazilian Nationals,” he says. But as he continues his climb to push himself as far as he can go, he’s also determined to help others achieve that goal for themselves as well. “I would like to grow and maintain the strong program I have at my academy, The Armory. I really look forward to helping my students grow and achieve their jiu-jitsu dreams.”
Watch Fight to Win Pro 57 as it streams live on FloGrappling starting at 6 p.m. Pacific time on Friday, December 8.