Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight transplants Donald Cerrone and Patrick Cote will collide this Saturday (June 18, 2016) at TD Place Arena in Ottawa, Canada.
Since dropping down to Welterweight, Cote has honestly looked phenomenal. Despite being 36 years old and over a decade into his professional career, "The Predator" looks better than ever and will do his best to continue his winning ways opposite "Cowboy."
Speaking of, Cerrone made short work of his opponent in his Welterweight debut last February. Cerrone is still looking to prove that Welterweight is his home, and a victory over Cote would go a long way.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both men:
Record: 29-7 (1)
Key Wins: Benson Henderson (UFC Fight Night 59), Eddie Alvarez (UFC 178), Myles Jury (UFC 182)
Key Losses: Rafael dos Anjos (UFC on FOX 17), UFC Fight Night 27), Anthony Pettis (UFC on FOX 6)
Keys to Victory: Cerrone is a highly skilled kickboxer with a dangerous Brazilian jiu-jitsu game. He's a highly aggressive finisher, having submitted or knockout out 21 of his opponents.
This will be a major test of Cerrone's ability to keep distance and defend grappling attempts from a larger opponent. Cerrone usually wins or loses fights based on this, so this will be a solid indicator toward whether or not Cerrone can really compete at 170 pounds.
To outwork a larger fighter from range, Cerrone will really have to focus on his footwork. Cote's recent losses came to mobile kickboxers, and Cerrone should do his best to keep moving and fit that description.
In addition, Cerrone should have a speed advantage. If he can get his low kicks going and weaken Cote's legs, he could increase that edge even further.
If Cote can't catch Cerrone, he's in for a rough night.
Key Wins: Ben Saunders (UFC Fight Night 81), Josh Burkman (UFC Fight Night 74), Kyle Noke (TUF: "Nations" Finale)
Key Losses: Stephen Thomson (UFC 178), Cung Le (UFC 148)
Keys to Victory: For a long time, Cote was one of those fighters with a reputation for knockout power who didn't really knock anyone out. However, against two of the tougher opponents he's faced in recent years, Cote landed his first UFC knockouts since 2008.
The Canadian has really put it all together. At this point, he wrestles fluidly, transitions well on the ground and threatens with submissions, and his iron chin has held up well. When all that is combined with his striking background — which has always been his greatest strength — it's clear why he's won five of six at Welterweight.
By the way, that sole loss came to Thomson, who's proven himself to be a pretty alright fighter himself.
In this bout, Cote needs to blend together all of his skills and make use of his size. As a former Middleweight taking on a long-time Lightweight, that's a considerable advantage.
On the whole, Cote needs to pressure Cerrone with his boxing and work into the clinch or takedown. Cote is the superior boxer and can trust on his chin to get him in close, and his size should be a significant factor in grappling exchanges.
Bottom Line: This fight is a crossroads bout for both men.
Cote is on a serious tear, but Cerrone is certainly a higher level of competition than his recent wins. Cote is vying for a position inside the Top 15, and a win here would give him a strong argument.
On the other hand, a loss would hurt Cote’s momentum and chance of every reaching that rank. He’s deep into his career and already made one major jump in ability, so hoping for another one is pretty unrealistic.
Meanwhile, Cerrone still has to prove that he can really compete with the best at Welterweight. He may have found success in his first bout, but Benson Henderson did as well before stumbling when facing a more skilled foe.
If Cerrone comes up short here, a move to Lightweight is in his best interest.
On the other hand, a win keeps the goal alive. Cote may not be ranked, but he’s as tough as they come and a legitimate test for "Cowboy." By winning impressively, Cerrone makes a bold statement that he’s ready for a top fighter.
At UFC Fight Night 89, Patrick Cote and Donald Cerrone will compete in the co-main event. Which fighter will be named the victor?