LAS VEGAS – For years, Patrick "The Predator" Cote was a schizophrenic fighter.
He had his UFC personality, where he was wary and unconfident and would find a way to lose. Put him in any other fight just about anywhere outside the UFC and he took on the personality of a guy who couldn't lose.
So Cote knew all he had to do was to take the personality that carried him to nine wins in as many fights outside of the UFC into those in the octagon.
"We knew Patrick was such a good fighter and that he could have won a lot of those fights, so we never gave up on him and we just kept working on his confidence, because he always had the tools to do this," said his coach, Fabio Holanda, of the Brazilian Top Team Canada.
Cote (12-4) reeled off his third UFC win – and his fourth overall – on Wednesday when he stopped Drew McFedries in the first round of their middleweight bout in The Pearl at the Palms Hotel.
McFedries landed a big right hand that surprisingly turned out to work against him.
"It didn't rock me, but it was a pretty good shot," the 27-year-old Cote said. "It was a wakeup call for me. After that, I just did what I did. I was more in the game. I was too calm before that." Seconds after the McFedries right, Cote unleashed a four-punch combination that sent McFedries slumping to the canvas.
The Quebec City native pounced on him and fired away until referee Herb Dean stopped it. McFedries protested briefly, but he wasn't defending himself and Cote was hitting him with thudding shots alongside the head.
It was a significant win for Cote on many levels. McFedries is a hard hitter and that alone made him dangerous. But McFedries had extra motivation for the fight because his mother, Agnes McFedries-Kennedy, was murdered on Dec. 22 in Davenport, Iowa.
McFedries told the Las Vegas Review-Journa that he had considered pulling out of the bout, but said his mental health made him fight. "Given the circumstances, I need this both physically and emotionally," McFedries told the newspaper. "If I didn't have this, I would break down."
Cote, who expressed his sympathies to McFedries on the microphone to the crowd after the fight, knew that McFedries would be extraordinarily difficult to beat because of the motivation he would get from his mother's death.
"If that had happened to me, I think I'd probably try to kill the guy in front of me," Cote said.
The most significant aspect of his win, though, was that Cote himself admits it may not have landed on his side a few years ago. Plagued by self-doubts, he may never have gotten in to finish McFedries.
And even going into the fight on Wednesday, Cote had those doubts circling in the back of his mind. He came in with back-to-back wins over Scott Smith and Kendall Grove in the UFC, but he knew the axe could come at any time.
The UFC will cut fighters who don't perform and it was in the back of Cote's mind on Wednesday that three in a row in the UFC would be a lot better on his resume than yet another disappointing loss.
When Dean stopped the fight, Cote erupted in celebration because the significance of the victory dawned on him.
"Even though I had two wins in a row in the UFC, I still had my back against the wall," Cote said. "I'm still borderline with the UFC. Maybe not now, but before this fight I was. With the UFC, I wasn't in a good position."
For years, Cote was almost embarrassed to be referred to as a UFC fighter. His losses to the likes of Joe Doerksen and Chris Leben so haunted him that he didn't want the exposure he got at smaller shows for being introduced as a UFC fighter.
In those days, he craved anonymity.
"For sure, for sure," he said, chuckling. "It's rough when you go to the UFC and you know that you're good and you know you're able to win, but you're not able to catch the big win. It was hard to deal with that."
He paused and shook his head. For a guy who battled shaky confidence for years, he has no lack of confidence in his mind.
"My mind is my No. 1 skill," he said. "In my head, I knew that one day I'd get to this point."
And if Holanda is correct, the three-fight UFC winning streak is only the beginning. Cote is known for his heavy hands, but he's becoming more capable on the ground.
Holanda said that Cote's confidence in his ground game is making him confident on his feet because he no longer worries about going to the ground.
"Patrick is a guy with a lot of things going for him," Holanda said. "If he keeps working, you're going to see a lot more out of him maybe than you might ever have thought you would. He's developing into a real good middleweight, for sure."