Patrick Cote hit a zenith. A five-fight winning streak earned him a shot at middle champion Anderson Silva at UFC 90 in October 2008. All he needed to do was defeat a fighter widely considered one of the best in the entire world, a tall task for elite warriors and ones eventually proven beneath Silva’s Olympus stature. Though Cote was eating a course of the Spider’s best shots, he took ’em, blows that would have spelled curtains for lesser men. He became the first UFC fighter to reach the third round against the dominant champion, his chances still alive before fate decided to intervene and scream, “Screw you.”
Cote’s right knee blew out 39 seconds into the round, giving the fight to Silva, and endured surgeries to repair his ACL and MCL that kept him away from the Octagon for 18 months and set him back a long year-and-a-half and tumbling down the division pecking order. It was during that heart-ripping period when Cote created a new motivation, one he’ll take into his return bout May 8 in Montreal at UFC 113.
“It was just bad luck in the bad time,” Cote said. “Today I feel that I’m a better fighter than when I fought Silva. I want to do the best comeback in UFC history.”
Cote turned 30 in February. There is a lot more he wants to do even with a resume demanding instant respect. He holds wins over Jason MacDonald, Scott Smith, Jason Day, Kendall Grove, Andrew McFedries, Bill Mahood and Ricardo Almeida. His next challenge is an up and comer named Alan Belcher, one who’s carried a chip on his shoulder since losing a controversial split decision to Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 100 last summer, one that grew larger when he was placed on the prelim card of UFC 107, where he destroyed Wilson Gouveia via first-round TKO.
The Talent arrives to Montreal carrying more attitude. The Predator is a native of Quebec and will walk into the Bell Centre bolstered by ravenous support famous for a sports-crazed city. Cote fought in Montreal earlier in his career for TKO Championship Fighting. This time he competes in a building that drew 21,390 for UFC 83 to see hometown hero Georges St. Pierre re-gain the welterweight crown from Matt Serra backed by cochlea-tearing ovations that rivals Sacramento’s love affair with Urijah Faber.
“TKO was huge here in Montreal and I remember that was just crazy, so I can’t wait to feel the power and the energy of the crowd,” Cote said. “It’s gonna be awesome. Actually, Belcher and I were supposed to fight the first time they came here in Montreal but I got injured. Finally on May 8 I’ll be back!”
Another injury setback in late 2009 forced Cote to remain on the sidelines, but he says his condition is at “200 percent” and brushed off any concerns over ring rust from the extended inactive period. During the time away he stewed over what could have been. Early last year he expressed confidence he’ll defeat Silva the day he’s granted a rematch. Last month he shook his head watching Silva make a mockery of himself and MMA at UFC 112.
“If we fight again he will want to fight me for real,” Cote said.
A second chance is what Cote is after, one better than the first that got him through the door and access to a title shot. St. Pierre is Canada’s national hero, but what Cote’s already earned is self-respect, one he plans on using as a springboard to the rebooting of his career.
“I already have my own niche,” Cote said. “I don’t do that to be a superstar. I fight because I like it and I’m good at it.”
Next to becoming a champion, Cote is determined to be the best in another niche: The Comeback.