in an article taken from the mmajunkie radio show...
LinkPatrick Cote is enjoying the moment.
The UFC middleweight has spent 14 months on the shelf after his knee collapsed in the third round of an October 2008 title bout with champion Anderson Silva, and for most of 2009, he took baby steps in and out of the gym.
The injury had come at the apex of his career and cast a big "what if" around the outcome of the fight, and ultimately, his title worthiness.
Like most fighters, Cote worked around the injury and improved on the things he could. The time off bettered his golf game – before he fought professionally, he wanted to make a living on the links – but he was restless and tired of watching the middleweight division pass him by. While he was benched, jiu-jitsu specialist Thales Leites flung himself at Silva's belt and failed miserably. He wanted another chance.
He's "The Predator," after all. And one who smiles after punches fly.
Cote (13-5 MMA, 4-5 UFC) is back in the thick of the fight game again, finally, and has a rendezvous Saturday with Alan Belcher at UFC 113 in Montreal. The event is three hours by car from his home in Quebec City. He's loving every minute of it: the preparation, the interviews, the pre-fight golf. He feels he owes the fans a stellar performance.
"I'm going to deliver a good fight because I received so much support from the fans," Cote recently told MMAjunkie Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). "Everybody was so nice with me, so I think they deserve a good performance from me. ... I'm going to give that to them."
Just don't ask him for tickets.
Alan Belcher (15-6 MMA, 6-4 UFC) is not a tuneup fight by any stretch of the imagination. A Muay Thai technician, he has taken out many tough guys, most recently Wilson Gouveia at UFC 107, who chose to stand in front of him. In recent years, he's added submissions to his arsenal. He's just as much a predator as Cote.
"He's not going down on the first big punch I'm going to give him," Cote said. "He's a gamer. He has a good chin."
But that's the way the French-Canadian fighter wants it.
"We wanted a big fight right away for my comeback, and Alan Belcher is no joke," Cote said. "I respect him a lot. He's going to come here in Montreal and bring it. The first time he came to Montreal, he didn't do very well against Jason Day. But I'm sure he wants to come here and prove to everybody that was just a mistake."
Day, a native of Alberta, Canada, upset Belcher at UFC 83 more than two years ago with a TKO victory. Cote was Belcher's original opponent at the event but broke his finger and was forced to withdraw from the fight. So it's not the first time the two have eyed each other.
Cote, a member of Brazilian Top Team Canada, is usually in camp for two months before fights. This time around, he spent 11 weeks in full preparation and jumped between his Montreal gym and Mark DelaGrotte's Sityodtong Academy in Massachusetts. Former UFC champion Murilo Bustamonte and current UFC fighter Rousimar Palhares stopped by in Montreal.
He believes his head and heart are in the right place for Saturday's fight. And while a win over Belcher could be the quickest way to return to contender status, he won't say he's in spitting distance of a second shot at Silva.
Just being in the game is enough for now.
"I don't want to know about it," Cote said. "I'm going to take one fight at a time. If I'm looking [past] Alan Belcher, it's going to be a big mistake for me. Belcher ... wants his title fight too.
"I don't have any control [over] the decision of the UFC giving me the title fight or giving me good fight [to get] on top. The only control I have is to be in shape and ready to fight ... against Alan Belcher, so all my focus is there."