Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Just days away from Patrick Cote's thirteenth trip inside the Octagon, the hard-hitting middleweight fighter talked to Mike Bohn for MMAmania.com (with an appearance by Mike Chiapetta) to discuss his UFC 154 bout against Alessio Sakara. "The Predator" also dished on the night's main event between Georges St. Pierre and Carlos Condit, as well as the difficulties of returning to MMA competition from a reconstructive knee surgery and much more.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight Patrick Cote has had his ups and downs inside the Octagon since he first fought in the organization in 2004, the high point being his 185-pound championship bout with Anderson Silva at UFC 90 back in Oct. 2008.
Unfortunately for the French-Canadian, he has recently fallen on tough times, losing four-straight UFC bouts with his last victory coming against Ricardo Almeida more than four years ago. "The Predator" did manage to compile four victories between UFC stints, with his last win coming at the expense of Gustavo Machado at Amazon Forest Combat (AFC) 2 earlier this year.
But, in the world of mixed martial arts (MMA), non-UFC wins are a dime a dozen. It's results inside that Octagon that matter most, which is the reason Cote is calling his showdown with Alessio Sakara this weekend at UFC 154 at the Bell Center in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, "the biggest fight" of his career.
Just days away from Cote's self-described date with destiny, the 32-year-old spoke with Mike Bohn for MMAmania.com about a plethora of topics.
Check it out:
Mike Bohn: How does it feel to be back fighting in Canada again?
Patrick Cote: It's good man, fighting in my hometown, it's always fun.
Mike Bohn: You have a big fight with Alessio Sakara, what do you think about him as an opponent?
Patrick Cote: Great boxer, fast, a lot of experience, he's a very technical boxer, but he's been stopped a couple of times in the UFC, his chin's maybe not his best weapon and I'm planning to test that.
Mike Bohn: Are you going to try and exploit his chin? Because that's one major thing -- people think you have a chin that's made of granite while he's been knocked out multiple times?
Patrick Cote: I'm not looking to overuse it, but I know my chin is there if I need it. But I'm going in there, I want to fight a technical fight and I want to prove I'm a better boxer than him.
Mike Bohn: You took the Cung Le fight on short notice and this time you got the chance to have a full training camp, what kind of difference did that make in terms of your preparation?
Patrick Cote: It's made a lot of difference. I don't want to make any excuse about my last fight, I think some details cost me the fight, but I think I made a good performance against Cung Le -- he's just very tricky. But you know what? For this camp, I've had the full 10 weeks of hard training. I went to New York to train with Matt Serra, [Costa] Philippou and Chris Weidman, so you know what, I did everything right for this fight. I'm ready to win.
Mike Bohn: What was it like training with those guys? I'm assuming if you were with Weidman you worked a lot on your wrestling?
Patrick Cote: I did more sparring with Costa Philippou. It's more like the same kind of fighter as Sakara, but 10 times more powerful. Philippou is a beast, man, he's a really hard hitter and I was able to take everything he gave me and I gave him back, so I'm very confident about Saturday.
Mike Bohn: Do you think Philippou will beat your fellow Canadian here in Nick Ring?
Patrick Cote: You know what? If I cheer for my country I've got to go with Nick Ring, but on paper, I think Philippou has the better chance to win.
Mike Bohn: Your last UFC win was 2008, how important is it for you to finally get a win in the Octagon on your resume again?
Patrick Cote: It's the most important fight of my life for sure, of my entire career. I'm going there with no doubt in my mind that I'm going to win this fight.
Mike Bohn: Where do you think you've improved the most since your July fight with Cung Le to this point? What one area of your game is noticeably different?
Patrick Cote: You know it's only four months [since my last fight], all those strengths everywhere. I've trained a lot of wrestling and my ground game, especially my wrestling, because it's always been my weakness. But, for this fight that was a little easier to prepare because Cung Le is like very unorthodox, Sakara is more simple to prepare for. He's not easier, but simple because he's a boxer. So I'm ready to go everywhere.
Mike Bohn: When you're not fighting you're also doing commentary and analyzing for the UFC in Canada. I'm not going to ask you for a prediction on St. Pierre and Condit because I know St. Pierre's your friend and you have bias, but breaking that fight down, tell me how Condit can win?
Patrick Cote: I think Condit can win the fight in the first two rounds. Because even if you say ring rust doesn't exist and stuff like that ... it does. And I had the same injury as Georges and when I came back at UFC 113 -- the first minute was fast, it was really fast. It's going to happen, and Georges -- maybe he's going to get back and he's going to try and take Condit down -- which I think he's going to be able to do. But, if I was Condit, the first two minutes of the first round I put pressure, a lot of pressure, trying to hit him hard and make a brawl and be careful about the takedown. But, if the fight goes longer, you know, second, third round or longer than that, I think Georges is going to win.
Mike Chiapetta: When you come into a fight coming off an injury like you said you did and now Georges is doing the same, do you have doubt in your mind about what your body can do even if you make it through a camp?
Patrick Cote: No, not this time. At first you're body feels great, you feel 100 percent about the body. After that you have to feel 100 percent about your head. You know, your mental, it's very important. But when you go through the fight, you're wondering in your head if you're 100 percent. You can't prepare for ring rust, you can't prepare for the pace of the real fight. You can't say you're ready to go and that you did everything right in the training, but when the bell rings it's always faster with the real fight inside the cage. And it's going to happen, but I think Georges is aware of that and he has to be careful about the first two or three minutes of the first round.
Mike Chiapetta: Georges seems like his mindset it different, he's saying he's not the champion anymore and calling Carlos the champion, I assume that's a mental thing for him but what do you think?
Patrick Cote: I think he's trying to put more pressure on Condit by saying that. You know what, he's coming back from a long layoff, but he's coming back to a big fight right away. You know I came back on the regular fight against Alan Belcher, but he's coming back right into a title fight, five rounds. It's hard, especially against Condit. Condit is no joke, man. Everyone is talking about Georges and Anderson Silva or something like that, let me tell you something, Condit can spoil that, he can. That's the guy. He can shut everybody, 23,000 people, only with one punch. But, I think Georges is more technical and I think the wrestling is probably going to make the difference in this fight.
Mike Chiapetta: When you hurt your knee, how long did it take you to come back to where you were 100 percent normal and you could do everything you used to do?
Patrick Cote: It took 14 months, almost 13, 14 months. Then after that you rebuild your game to where you're in game shape, in fight shape and all these things. It took me 18-months, same thing as Georges, to come back and I have no doubt in my mind that Georges is ready physically and mentally, but you know what? You can't be prepared for that, you can't be prepared for ring rust, it's impossible. But you can be aware of that. You know what's going to happen, but let me tell you something, the first minute is going to be very fast.
Mike Chiapetta: That was your first major injury; people had talked to you about ring rust before that. Did you believe them?
Patrick Cote: No, no. You always think you're over that. Because in training you feel great, you feel 100 percent, you feel ready to go. You say, ‘Hey, it's happened to everybody else except for me.' Well the bell rings, you receive the first kick with no shin guard, you receive the first punch with only four-ounce gloves, not 16. Then okay, that's the real thing. Then you try to adjust, then you say, ‘Okay, the next time I'm gonna, I'm gonna avoid it. I'm going to move the head, then bang.' Then you say, ‘I'm gonna the next one and the next one,' then after one-minute you've received 10 punch and you didn't land one. But, as long as the fight go you adjust, then in the second round I was winning the fight [against Belcher] until he did the piledriver and yeah. But it's maybe one or two minutes after the first-round if he's able to avoid the storm of Condit then Georges is going to get back where he was.