February 17, 2011
Claude Patrick fights off the bad luck
By STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Don’t expect Claude Patrick, known in fight circles as The Prince, to be particularly charming when he meets Daniel Roberts at UFC 129 on April 30.
Patrick is a classy dude away from the octagon, but he’s also a mixed martial arts fighter at the top of his game and a victory over Roberts would bring him one step closer to a world title.
But Patrick’s journey has been fraught with some major setbacks — including one that nearly cost him his life.
A couple of years ago, the Mississauga fighter was in Gatineau, Que., to do commentary at an MMA show when he was attacked by a group of men at a hotel.
“They think I was Tasered, though nobody’s 100% sure,” the personable fighter said this week after a workout at his gym, Elite Training Centre in Mississauga.
“All I know, I was in a hotel knocking at somebody’s door and then it’s a complete blank from there. I woke up in a hospital with a tube in my throat. I thought maybe I was in a car accident.”
Patrick was beaten so badly that doctors had to put him in a medically induced coma.
He had two tell-tale burns on his neck, thought to come from a stun gun.
While nobody is certain why he was attacked, he does have an idea.
“(Apparently) the promoter owed some guys money and those guys came looking for their money and I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.
Thankfully, Patrick has recovered completely and is confident he will rise to the occasion against his opponent at the Rogers Centre, the 12-1 Roberts, a tough American coming off three straight wins, including a submission victory over Greg Soto at UFC 125 on Jan.1.
But Patrick’s record, 13-1, is equally impressive. He’s won 12 straight, including a unanimous decision over Englishman James Wilks at the O2 Arena in London at UFC 120 on Oct.16.
The victory over Wilks was actually his first decision. All Patrick’s wins before that came either by submission or knockout. Since signing with UFC in March, Patrick, 30, has been able to train fulltime for fights and his skills are at their peak.
If all goes well on April 30, a world welterweight challenge shouldn’t be that far off — and the UFC champion happens to his good friend, Georges St. Pierre, who will headline UFC 129 against Jake Shields.
But for Patrick, just making it to the UFC is a significant accomplishment.
His parents discouraged him from taking up martial arts when he was a kid, though his godfather signed him up for karate when he was 13.
“I trained there for three months and my membership ran out, but I was fortunate enough to find a kick-boxing club called HUF, run by Andrew Heron, who trained me for free for some time and helped get my basics together. And from there I went on to jiu-jitsu.”
Even as his skills progressed, Patrick never saw a big future as a professional MMA fighter, given that the pro game was banned in Ontario at the time. He trained and fought for fun and fitness more than anything.
“I saw Bloodsport with Jean-Claude Van Damme and I thought, ‘that’s pretty cool, let’s go do that in the basement.’ Today it’s real life,” he said.
Patrick turned pro in 2002, fighting for smaller outfits like King of Cage Canada and the International Fight League, where he had one bout before tearing a ligament in his knee while training.
That injury set him back for over a year. He also moved to Montreal in 2006 and trained with GSP.
Fighting and training away from home was never easy and given that MMA was banned in Ontario until this year, Patrick never had the advantage of fighting in front of a supportive crowd.
That, of course, will all change when he climbs into the octagon at UFC 129.
But Patrick believes all the adversity — the injuries, the attack, the menial jobs between fights, dumpy hotels, fighting away from home — has made him a better fighter and mentally stronger.
“It keep things in perspective,” he said.
“It’s like when I worked security in the past, night club security. You know what that is, that’s a real fight. This is a sport. You may not go home if things go bad when you’re working security.”
Patrick’s goal is to win a world title, but he also has big plans for his training centre, including giving disadvantaged kids a chance to train and learn MMA skills for free.
But first, he plans to take of for an 8-10 week training camp in California or Nevada, where he can train in complete isolation.