Small world. Claude Patrick almost taught MMA for the guy he’s about to go toe-to-toe with on Saturday night at UFC 140.
Don’t know who Claude Patrick is? Well you’re probably not alone. Unless you are a hard core fan of mixed martial arts, you probably haven’t heard of him. His name doesn’t carry the same weight as, say, a Georges St. Pierre.
But Claude (The Prince) Patrick just might be the best Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight you’ve never heard of. And, to think, he hails from right here in your own backyard.
The 31-year-old Mississauga native has racked up some impressive stats during his mixed martial arts career. He’s on a 13-fight win streak (including his pre-UFC days), which dates all the way back to 2002, and has finished 12 of his 14 fights, nine of them in the first round. Wow.
The only blemish to his otherwise stellar MMA record came via a decision to Drew McFedries during the second fight of his career. And that was a long time ago.
Since the defeat, the submission specialist has gone on a tear that has carried him all the way into the ranks of the UFC where he has won three straight fights, including a unanimous decision over Daniel Roberts during UFC 129 at the Rogers Centre in April.
“I kind of fly below the radar as much as possible for the most part,” the 5-foot-11 Patrick said during an interview on Thursday prior to a UFC 140 press conference.
“I don’t sing it, I bring it. You keep winning and eventually people will take notice. A lot of these guys are talking, talking, running around doing backflips and craziness like that trying to get attention. Then when it’s time to perform, they fall real short. I’d rather put the proof in the pudding.”
On Saturday night, Patrick will step into the octagon for what will arguably be the biggest fight of his career. For the first time he finds himself on the main card of a UFC event and he’ll face tough American journeyman Brian Ebersole, who fights out of Melbourne, Australia.
“I was going to go teach (MMA) for him in Australia,” Patrick said of Ebersole. “He asked. I’d hurt myself (and couldn’t fight) and he was looking to leave Australia for a bit to go home for vacation and he was like, ‘Come on down and teach for three months’ and I was going to do it but I had the surgery scheduled, so I couldn’t. That was in 2006.”
And though Patrick wasn’t saying so, a decisive win over the unorthodox Ebersole (48-14-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC), who does such things as shave arrows into his chest hair, could thrust him into the conversation of legitimate welterweight challenger.
“I’m not one of the top four guys,” Patrick said. “Those guys kind of shuffle amongst each other and jockey for position to go for the title but I’m not there yet. I just have to keep moving, keep winning. And the first step is to beat Brian Ebersole on Saturday.”
But Patrick knows that beating Ebersole won’t be easy.
“He’s got a bunch of different styles,” the Mississauga native said. “I think his biggest thing is misdirection. He kind of gets you looking somewhere else, whether it be his arrow or his funny haircut or his cartwheel kicks, and you end up thinking about that stuff and not respecting him as a fighter, and then you go home the loser.”
Patrick wasn’t even supposed to be on the main card of this event — he was originally slated to fight Rich Attonito on the preliminary card until fellow Canadian Rory MacDonald pulled out with an injury — but he felt like the Attonito bout wouldn’t take place.
“It’s really funny. I knew I wouldn’t be fighting the guy I was supposed to be fighting. I had a strange feeling. I’m not a psychic guy or anything like that, but they announced the fight and I thought, I’m not going to fight that guy, something is going to happen. And sure enough something happened.”
It remains to be seen whether or not Patrick can make the most of his opportunity, but with both MacDonald and welterweight champ St. Pierre on the shelf with injuries, the division is a little more open and a big win could finally have people taking notice of Patrick.