Patrick Cote returns to UFC in a big way

Patrick Cote. (ERIC BOLTE/QMI AGENCY files)

Patrick Cote. (ERIC BOLTE/QMI AGENCY files)

Neil Springer, Special to QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 5:11 PM ET

Patrick (The Predator) Cote knew it wouldn't be long before he returned to the UFC.

The Quebec middleweight even figured he would likely step in for an injured fighter.

Despite his stellar fortune-telling abilities, Cote couldn't have guessed his comeback would be on the main card of the biggest event of the year, against a fighter as renowned as Cung Le.

"I didn't expect to be back in the UFC with this kind of fight," Cote told QMI Agency. "It's a huge fight, a huge card, a huge pay-per-view. It's going to be good. I'm very thankful for the UFC for bringing me back in a big fight like this.

"We were waiting for a late replacement or an injury. But like I said, we didn't expect to have a big fight right away."

Cote meets Le in a battle of hard-hitting strikers at UFC 148 in Las Vegas on July 7. The card will be headlined by the middleweight championship rematch between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen. The co-main event will see Urijah Faber take on Renan Barao to crown an interim bantamweight titleholder. The show also features the rubber match between Forrest Griffin and Tito Ortiz.

A decorated sanshou practitioner, Le was originally scheduled to fight former middleweight champ Rich Franklin. But as luck would have it, Franklin was moved to the UFC 147 main event against Wanderlei Silva in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on June 23 after Vitor Belfort broke his hand.

The switch opened the door for Cote, who was cut from the organization after being held down for 15 minutes by Tom Lawlor at UFC 121 almost two years ago. He has since put together a four-fight win streak.

Cote feels Le is the perfect style of opponent for him to reintroduce himself to UFC fans.

"It's always fun to fight another striker who is not afraid to stay on his feet," Cote said. "Cung Le's going to give me a lot of problems. He's a good kicker ... he does spinning back-kicks and spinning back-fists. He's dangerous all the time.

"But the key to this fight is going to be (applying) pressure all the time. I have to bring it. I have to give a good show to win and I'm ready to go. I could fight tomorrow and I'd be ready. I was prepared to fight soon in case the call came and that's exactly what happened. I just can't wait to go in there and bang with Cung Le."

One of Le's strongest weapons is his ability to keep opponents at the perfect distance for him to unload with kicks. He often utilizes a sharp side-kick to the abdomen to prevent fighters from getting up close and personal.

Cote knows it's going to be tricky to get on the inside -- especially early in the fight. But as long as he keeps moving forward, he feels he can take Le's kicks away from him and wear the Strikeforce veteran down.

"He did pretty well in the first round (against Wanderlei Silva), but as soon as Silva began to put pressure on him, he wasn't able to find his range to use his kicks," said Cote, referencing Le's TKO loss to the MMA legend in November. "That's the key against a good kicker like that. You can't give him space to set up the kick. So you have to put a lot of pressure.

"In the second round, he gassed out a little bit. Silva gave him a lot of pressure in the second round. In my mind, it was a little bit of an early stoppage, but he was in big trouble. Silva was pounding him pretty bad."

Cote knows a good performance against Le will put him on the right track to climb back up the 185-pound ladder.

The Ultimate Fighter season four finalist reached the top of the division when he challenged Anderson Silva for the middleweight championship at UFC 90 on Oct. 25, 2008. Cote put on a tough, gritty performance, but suffered a freak knee injury in the third round that forced referee Herb Dean to stop the fight. At the post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White claimed Cote was the first fighter to make Silva "look human."

"I don't know if there's 'unfinished business,' but I felt good and had fun in that fight," Cote said. "I didn't feel that he was all over me. I felt I had my chance. I was staying to my game plan and taking the centre of the octagon. He gave me his best punch and I took it. I was still there.

"I'm not going to lie to you, it's very complicated to fight Anderson Silva -- but I felt pretty good. In the third round, I knew that my knee was a mess, but I tried to go in there and go for the Hail Mary. It was just a question of time for when my knee popped out.

"If you ask me to go back in there against Silva, I'd do it for sure."

COTE: SILVA WILL BEAT SONNEN

Patrick (The Predator) Cote knows a thing or two about fighting Anderson Silva.

The Quebec striker challenged Silva for the middleweight championship at UFC 90 on Oct. 25, 2008. Though he took some hard shots, Cote never stopped coming forward. The bout ended when his knee gave out in the third round and Silva was awarded a TKO victory.

Moments before Silva rematches Chael Sonnen at UFC 148 in Las Vegas on July 7, Cote will face dangerous striker Cung Le.

Though Sonnen came closer than anyone to beating Silva in their first encounter, Cote doesn't like his chances this time out.

"I'm a big fan of Chael Sonnen as a character, but as a fighter, I think it's going to be hard for him to beat Silva," Cote told QMI Agency. "Silva's going to be well-prepared. He's not going to be surprised by the intensity and pressure from Chael Sonnen.

"I think this time Silva is going to win and it will be pretty (brutal). But hopefully we get a good fight like last time. Silva's going to be ready for everything Chael's going to try and give him."


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