CHICAGO – Patrick Cote sat back at Thursday's UFC 90 press conference as the others fielded most of the questions.
His boss, Dana White, was asked if UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva could contend for the light heavyweight title. White said Silva is two wins away from such a scenario.
Silva was asked if he felt he could go down to welterweight and face champion Georges St. Pierre. Silva said he felt he couldn't make the cut, and that St. Pierre should jump up a weight class to make it happen.
On and on went the questions about the future of the world's No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter.
But Cote (13-4) is the roadblock in the champ's immediate path. On a five-fight win streak, the Quebec City native will challenge Silva in the main event of Saturday's card at the Allstate Arena in nearby Rosemont.
"They can talk about Anderson all day," Cote said after the main press conference ended. "He is the champion, and he should get the attention."
If Cote seems unfazed about being overlooked, it is because this isn't the first time he's been written off. The Francophone middleweight once was left on the scrap heap, his contract not renewed in 2005 after he dropped three straight UFC matches.
"If I believed what other people thought, I probably would not have gotten myself back into position to get a title shot," Cote said.
Cote earned a rep as an up-and-comer on the Canadian MMA scene, where he kicked off his career with five consecutive victories, including four first-round stoppages. He was thrown into the fire in his UFC debut, taking a substitute spot in the main event of UFC 50 against Tito Ortiz when Guy Mezger had to withdraw. Cote lost a unanimous decision, but impressed in the process.
"Patrick Cote's first fight in the UFC, he was fighting at 185 pounds," said White. "Something happened to Tito Ortiz's opponent and so we said, 'Kid, his opponent fell out. Will you step up and fight at 205?' He weighed 185 pounds. … He stepped up, dropped Tito and went three rounds with him. The kid's a tough kid."
Despite the showing, the Ortiz loss gave way to what Cote calls "the octagon curse." He lost two more UFC bouts, then found himself back fighting on local shows.
"In some ways, that was the best thing that happened to me," Cote said. "It was starting to become a mental thing, and leaving the UFC and putting a couple wins together made me want to get back."
He was given a second chance at the big time with a spot on the fourth season of "The Ultimate Fighter," billed as "The Comeback," the season which produced Matt Serra's stunning upset of St. Pierre for the welterweight title in 2007.
While he didn't win the competition, Cote looked strong enough in his second look to stick with the UFC, and then began a turnaround.
"I'm a more confident fighter today than I was back when I first came to the UFC," he said. "I honestly think going into the house, getting away from all the other distractions. It wasn't fun being in the house, but it helped me improve as a fighter."
Cote finally managed to take the explosive style with which he found so much success outside the octagon (he's 8-0 in non-UFC fights with four TKO/KOs and two submissions) into a major-league setting.
He took it to Kendall Grove and Drew McFedries in consecutive matches, delivering swift and decisive first-round TKOs. A UFC 86 match against Ricardo Almeida, to be polite, wasn't quite as exciting, but after earning a split decision, White stood by a prefight promise to give the match's winner a title shot.
"The Kendall Grove fight, Almeida, both times they said I was the underdog," Cote said. "That's OK. I'll be the underdog Saturday night, too."
And if the Cote whose standup looked so crisp against Grove and McFedries shows up, it could make for a match that will keep Cote from ever again being overlooked.
"(Cote) says he's going to go in and bang with (Silva), so we'll see what happens," White said. "Anything can happen when two guys start swinging."
- Patrick Cote
- Anderson Silva
- Tito Ortiz