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Canada Bound: Dinner with Forrest Griffin and Patrick Cote (Part III)


Adam Wagner is a writer for He is in Canada as part of the UFC 83: "Serra vs. St. Pierre 2″ Ultimate Fight Train experience. He'll blog about his whirlwind trip throughout the weekend, providing an inside account of what it's like to be in Montreal (and Toronto) when the UFC comes to town for the first time ever. Enjoy.

There are two things that I've learned thus far in Canada:

  1. D.C. traffic (famous for being nearly the worst in the States) has NOTHING on Toronto.
  2. When six people are trying to squeeze into a four-seat sedan, the two MMA fighters in the group will never be left the odd-men out.

This I pondered as MMA Fight Gear's Justin Curtin sped off down the road with Forrest Griffin, Patrick Cote and Cote's girlfriend, Marie, to have dinner. There go my interviews, I thought, which could have happened something like this:

Me: "Hey Forrest, how do you feel about your upcoming title fight?"

Forrest: "Gee, Adam, I'm glad you asked because I tell ya, I've got a strong opinion about it and I'd like to share it with you. What's that? You say you can't hear me? Maybe that's because I'm sitting in a fancy restaurant sipping on $11 per bottle San Pellegrino while you're sitting in a crappy Holiday Inn lobby waiting for Sean McManus to come pick you up!"

It's been a weird, wild ride thus far, that's for sure. And I've still only had three hours sleep. But let me rewind.

At 2 p.m., we all met down in the lobby of our hotel and cruised on over to The Score building in downtown Toronto.

The Score Television Network is a Canadian cable sports news channel that's headquartered in the Holiday Inn hotel at 370 King Street West. The Score also offers a sports channel on Sirius Satellite Radio called Hardcore Sports Radio (Channel 186, I believe).

Justin Curtin and Sean McManus had set up television and radio interviews for both Forrest and Cote, one at a time.

When Sean, Cote, Marie, my girlfriend Paige and I all arrived, Forrest was already in the green room recording his television piece. So the rest of us followed Cote into the Hardcore Sports Radio wing of the building and got to sit in on his live interview.

The interview went well and provided Cote with the opportunity to plug the Fight Train, lay to rest the rumor that he injured himself playing hockey (that's actually the professional hockey player who shares the same name, fyi) and talk about his upcoming fight on July 5 against Ricardo Almeida.

In just about 15 minutes of questions, Cote doesn't back down. He said he knows exactly how to beat Anderson Silva and plans to take the fight straight to him, if he's ever given the opportunity — a chance he feels he could get if he beats Almeida in convincing fashion.

Cote said that he believes the only fighter who has tried this approach against Silva thus far has been Chris Leben; but always the brawler, Leben probably didn't approach this strategy in the smartest way.

Ah, hindsight, you are always 20/20.

Cote also announced that he will be providing the ringside announcer duties at UFC 83 on French pay-per-view, as well as conducting a post-fight interview with GSP, regardless of the outcome of his fight with Serra. He thinks that, once again, all the pressure is on St. Pierre, who will be fighting in front of his hometown crowd.

You can hear the entire interview, along with Cote's picks for Rich Franklin/Travis Lutter, here.

With Cote's radio portion over, we headed back into a holding room just outside the green room, where Forrest had recently wrapped up his television interview and was still sweating from the intense lights. The heat of the room was nearly unbearable, despite the fact that we were next door to the room actually housing the lights.

While we waited for the lighting techs to reset for Cote's on-camera interview, we all chatted about Vegas, sponsors and booze. But no matter the subject, the conversation continually returned to the Montreal fans and how UFC 83 might possibly turn into sheer bedlam.

"Montreal is going to burn down, win, lose or draw," Cote suggested, especially with Game six of the NHL's Montreal Canadiens/Boston Bruins Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series taking place the very same night.

Canadian fans are hardcore, he assured us.

"There will definitely be fights in the stands," Justin added. I tried to prepare myself for carnage.

Afterwards, when we were waiting on Forrest to finish his radio interview, Paige and I joined Cote and Marie for a quick stroll up to the CN Tower. Note to Toronto tourists: The closer you get to the CN Tower, the cheaper the hotdogs.

And man, are they something.

By the time we got back to the Score building, Forrest and Justin were ready to jet, only's own Sean McManus had previously left to take care of even more last minute details for the Fight Train (these guys work non-stop; it's 11 p.m. as I write this, and Sean is still out there working to finalize the decals for the train).

Six people. Four spots in the car. And everybody's hungry for dinner. You do the math. Paige and I volunteer to wait behind, despite the fact that I still haven't gotten my interviews for Mania. No worries, I think, we'll get them later tonight, or else on the train tomorrow.

The crew heads over to Tappo Wine Bar & Restaurant in the Distillery District, while Paige and I hustle a cab and join them 20 minutes later. Once again, traffic in this city is just nutty.

Dinner was fantastic, and after appetizers we were joined by Sean, Sean's wife and Justin's wife, rounding out our party.

Conversation ran the gamut, from the quality of Charles McCarthy's jiu-jitsu (it's good, but his MMA jiu-jitsu could use some work — there's a difference); to UFC Fight Night 13's Nate Diaz/Kurt Pellegrino fight; to crazy female fans who stalk Cote (Forrest's reply was tongue-in-cheek envious, "Hey, that doesn't happen to me!"); to how the producers of "The 25 Tuffest Moments of All Time" wouldn't allow Forrest and Stephan Bonnar to both have their hands in their pockets at the same time — the result, btw, is unintentional hilarity, as Bonnar doesn't know what to do with his hands throughout the entire show.

Watch it again if you get the chance.

Finally, we settled on the topic of fame in general and how people approach you on the street. Note to fans: When you see a fighter in the gym, don't bother him. He's at work. He doesn't come to your work and talk to you when you're trying to do your job.

You are working, and not surfing MMAmania, right?

Crashing now. Gotta get up at 5:00 a.m. to catch a Fight Train. Must remember to get flame-retardant suit for when Montreal erupts.


For Part I of Adam's UFC 83 experience click here and for Part II go here.

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