Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight war horses Patrick Cote and Josh Burkman will clash this Sunday (Aug. 23, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 74 inside SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Cote has been fighting for a very long time. In fact, he fought for the Middleweight title back in 2008 and was cut from the UFC just two years later. Since then, he worked his way back into the Octagon, and he's had something of a resurgence since dropping to Welterweight.
Burkman also was first picked up by UFC many years ago before being cut in 2008. He actually had his own career renaissance in World Series of Fighting (WSOF) several years back, but he's winless since returning to the Octagon.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for both men:
Key Wins: Kyle Noke (TUF: "Nations" Finale), Joe Riggs (UFC 186)
Key Losses: Stephen Thomson (UFC 178), Cung Le (UFC 148)
Keys to Victory: Though he's always been known as a kickboxer with knockout power, Cote hasn't shown knockout power inside the Octagon since 2008. Instead, he's been focusing on his wrestling ... and it's actually been working quite well for him.
Interestingly enough, the success of his wrestling has in large part been thanks to his drop to 170 pounds. He's stronger for the division and is now in much better shape, allowing him to push hard for three rounds.
Between these two very durable fighters, that will be a key here. In his last couple fights, Burkman really slowed as the fights wore on. While that's common for fighters deep into their careers, Cote seems to have avoided it so far.
With that in mind, Cote should continue doing what he's been successful with lately. In short, the Canadian needs to push forward with his punches until he has an opportunity to wrestle against the fence.
It's not going to be easy to take down Burkman from any position. However, prolonged grappling will definitely slow him down, leaving him vulnerable to later takedown attempts or Cote's kickboxing.
Record: 27-11 (1)
Key Wins: Jon Fitch (WSOF 3), Aaron Simpson (WSOF 2), Gerald Harris (WSOF 1)
Key Losses: Dong Hyun Kim (UFC 187), Steve Carl (WSOF 6)
Keys to Victory: Burkman is a very well-rounded and extremely tough athlete. For the most part, Burkman has been relying on the old school sprawl and brawl technique, using his defensive wrestling to help him throw hands.
Seeing as how Cote moved from striker to wrestler and Burkman did the opposite, this is certainly an interesting match up. Luckily for Burkman, his recent loss to Kim -- who employed a grappling strategy that Cote will likely try to copy -- was largely do to his own insistence on searching for the takedown.
When Burkman actually threw punches and avoided the shot, he was doing great.
That's the game plan here, and it's one Burkman has really refined. In his WSOF bouts with Fitch, Simpson, and Harris, Burkman did an excellent job making his opponent pay for their attempts to close distance with power punches.
Cote isn't a better wrestler than any of those men, and his striking has looked particularly good or dangerous in years. So long as Burkman sticks to the script, he should have the advantage in this fight.
Bottom Line: While neither man will compete for the division title, this should be a solid scrap between battle-hardened vets.
Cote has found himself in the role of gatekeeper, and at this point, the question is largely how high up does the gate stand. If Cote defeats Burkman, then he's proven himself a very tough man to beat at Welterweight, putting him just outside the Top 15.
On the other hand, a loss doesn't change much for Cote. The Canadian's role will remain the same, but a win over him will not be quite as meaningful.
Burkman really needs this win. He may not have been champion in the WSOF, but he still came over to the UFC with some momentum. And while losing to the Lombard -- which has since been overturned because of a failed drug test -- and Kim is understandable, Cote is definitely at a lower level than those two.
Burkman has proven that he can compete with the top half of the weight class. In this fight, he needs to prove that he can also win. Otherwise, he'll be on the regional scene again before long.
At UFC Fight Night 74, Patrick Cote and Josh Burkman will battle on the main card. Which man will have his hand raised?