UFC 90 had all the makings of a grand slam event.
The card at the Allstate Arena in suburban Rosemont was the company's first in the Chicago market.
It featured the man considered by most at the time the world's best pound-for-pound fighter, UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. The Brazilian sensation was on the verge of becoming the modern day Mike Tyson, a fighter whom fans tuned in to see destroy the competition in short order. Silva had finished six eight straight foes, five in the first round, and no one took him past the second round.
His opponent on Oct. 25, 2008, unheralded Patrick Cote, seemed to fit the role of Silva's next victim. The Quebecer was a replacement for Yushin Okami, who pulled out of the shot with an injury. Cote was on a five-fight win streak and had been working with noted Muay Thai coach Mark DellaGrotte, so he figured to mix it up with Silva before he got knocked out.
But something went awry in the UFC's plans to push Silva as the fight world's next knockout monster. From the outset, the champion rarely seemed to be himself. Two rounds passed with little in the way of action. Silva seemed to be clowning his opponent, making exaggerated bowing gestures and at one point offering his hand to Cote after Cote hit the mat. The only real blow struck in the first 10 minutes was a huge Silva knee to the face that rocked Cote, but Silva didn't go in for the kill.
Perhaps Silva was attempting to give the crowd a show before finishing Cote off. But he never got the chance. Early in the third round, Cote went to throw a punch and tore his right ACL. He went down in a heap and lost the fight, technically via TKO, without so much as getting hit. Silva tied the UFC record for consecutive wins with the victory, but the crowd hardly left in a celebratory mood.
Since that fight, people have attempted to analyze why Silva-Cote went down the way it did. Silva clearly had become bored with the lack of competition at 185 pounds. He publicly stated his intentions to box Roy Jones Jr., which UFC president Dana White shot down. White did give Silva a nod to his desire to fight at light heavyweight, where Silva had made short work of James Irvin three months earlier. While some scoffed at attempts to pinpoint why Silva put in such a perplexing performance while offering no better alternatives, the fact is, Silva went right back out and put on a similar display in his next match, an equally unsatisfying win over Thales Leites at UFC 97.
Diego Sanchez had to pull out of his scheduled fight with Thiago Alves with an injury. Josh Koscheck, who was already scheduled to fight on a December card, stepped up and agreed to meet the dangerous Muay Thai striker on short notice. The match ended up being the one that put Alves on the map as a serious contender, as Koscheck, an NCAA champion wrestler, got outmuscled for 15 minutes by Alves. Alves won on scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 30-27. Koscheck, meanwhile, went ahead with his plans and knocked out Yoshiyuki Yoshida six weeks later.
The UFC was roundly criticized in the blogosphere leading up to UFC 90 for placing unbeaten but untested Junior Dos Santos against Fabricio Werdum, considered a Top 10 heavyweight, in the former's UFC debut. Dos Santos answered the criticism with a brutal uppercut knockout at 1:20 of the first round. Werdum, whom the UFC believed was being less than honest in the handling of his contract renewal, was dropped from the roster after the fight.
The card drew a sellout crowd of 15,359, for a paid gate of $2,850,000.
Quoteworthy: "I was sitting there saying, 'What the [expletive] is going on?' " – White on his thoughts during Silva-Cote. RESULTS
Pete Sell def. Josh Burkman, unanimous decision
Hermes Franca def. Marcus Aurelio, unanimous decision
Dan Miller def. Matt Horwicj, unanimous decision
Spencer Fisher def. Shannon Gugerty, submission (triangle choke), 3:56 R2
Thales Leites def. Drew McFedries, submission (rear naked choke(, 1:18 R1
Sean Sherk def. Tyson Griffin, unanimous decision
Junior dos Santos def. Fabricio Werdum, KO, 1:20 R1
Gray Maynard def. Rich Clementi, unanimous decision
Thiago Alves def. Josh Koscheck, unanimous decision
UFC middleweight championship: Anderson Silva def. Patrick Cote, TKO, 0:39 R3 (Silva retains title)