2023 European Jiu-Jitsu IBJJF Championship

Cole vs Romulo: The Top Purple Belt Showdown On Our Euros Watch List

Cole vs Romulo: The Top Purple Belt Showdown On Our Euros Watch List

These two purple belt lightweight favorites are on a collision course at Euros. If they meet in the final, it's can't miss action.

Jan 19, 2023 by Corey Stockton
Cole vs Romulo: The Top Purple Belt Showdown On Our Euros Watch List

It's no secret at this point; Art Of Jiu-Jitsu's Cole Abate is a generational talent.

The purple belt phenom training under Gui Mendes, just 18 years old, has proven time and time again that he is among the best in the world.

That's the best grapplers, not the best purple belts.

Abate has torn through the juvenile divisions at IBJJF tournaments for years, and in the last few years, he's mixed it up with some of the top black belts in the world, becoming the youngest athlete ever to win the ADCC trials just one day before his 17th birthday, becoming one of the youngest ever to compete at ADCC in 2022, and collecting win after win over top-ranked talent.

Still, the IBJJF's purple belt divisions are not without their challenges.

Before Abate went on to win a purple belt featherweight world title at in 2022, he suffered a narrow loss at Pans. Clearly, he rebounded; he submitted each of his opponents at Worlds, honing in on his sharp armbar and back attacks from every angle.

Watch Abate's path to 2022 Worlds gold


The featherweight has his eyes set on new challenges in 2023, moving up to the lightweight division for the European Championships next week. There, he'll enter into the deepest category at purple belt with 72 names registered. Abate, a world champion, is likely to be the top seed in the division. He's ranked no.5 overall in purple belt rankings points by the IBJJF, which plays directly into seeding.

But not far behind him, ranked no.1 in lightweight points, is Alliance standout Romulo Rocha.

Rocha, 21, is an explosive submission machine. He tapped four of his five opponents at Pans, winning lightweight gold, and returned to No-Gi Worlds, putting up the same numbers to capture another title.

Like Abate, Rocha favors the armbar, but is well-rounded in attacks and positions.

Romulo Rocha training for Euros at Alliance, SP


In all likelihood, these two athletes will start on opposite sides of the bracket with byes in the first round, and would meet in their fifth round. Both of them have proven their endurance in deep brackets, and should cruise through to the final (unless Unity's Lisander Lopez stands in the way).

Those who have followed these two young stars know that this match — likely the division final — stands to be one of the best matches at Euros, and could be one of the early barn burners of the year.

The purple belts take the mats on Wednesday, January 25 in Paris, France. Watch it live on FloGrappling.