Mixed martial arts fighter Patrick Coté is hoping a visit with an old friend in St. Albert will put him over the top in his next bout.
The Montreal-based Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran was in St. Albert last week for a 10-day training camp at the Hayabusa Training Centre in Campbell Business Park as he prepared for his upcoming bout against “Vicious” Bobby Voelker on Saturday, March 16, at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
“It was just to get out of my comfort zone,” said the man who is nicknamed “The Predator.”
Hayabusa owner Luke Harris used to train with Coté in Montreal several years ago, and the two have remained friends over the years. He had wanted to come west for a couple of years, but couldn’t fit it in his schedule until recently.
“These guys are pretty good,” Coté said. “There are a lot of pro fighters here. Just because they’re not in the UFC doesn’t mean they’re not good. These guys have a chance to fight in the UFC sometime; you just have to be in the right place at the right time.”
Harris said that having a UFC vet like Coté come and train at Hayabusa is “huge for us.”
“I think he sees what we’re doing with Nick Penner, Mitch Clarke, Ryan Jimmo coming out of this gym. [This is a gym where] you can get what you need to perform at that level,” he said.
And having him around to teach some of the other fighters at the gym is a big boost as well.
“Coté is just an ambassador of the sport, just a great guy overall. … He’s a marquee guy in the organization. It’s huge motivation, and he’s a great role model for these guys,” Harris said.
Coté has a professional MMA record of 18-8. He fought current UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva in October 2008, losing due to a knee injury in the third round. His first UFC bout in 2004 was against UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz, and he was a finalist in Season 4 of The Ultimate Fighter reality TV show, but lost to Travis Lutter.
While Coté, 32, has fought his entire career at middleweight (185 pounds), the UFC 158 bout will be the first time he fights at welterweight (170 pounds).
“It’s still new for me, but I feel awesome,” said Coté, who was weighing in around 188 pounds while training in St. Albert. “I have a professional nutritionist and a professional guy who’s taking care of my health, checking everything in my body. I have good people around me; my nutritionist also works with the Montreal Canadiens hockey team. So I have really good guys around me to make this happen.”
Aside from making weight, though, Coté has to worry about his opponent, Voelker, who he said is a brawler with a reputation for coming from behind to win.
“He’s a gamer; he’s able to take a shot. They call him ‘The King of the Comeback’; he always finds a way to win at the end by throwing a knee or something at the end,” Coté said.
This will be Voelker’s first UFC fight after five straight in the Strikeforce promotion and more than a year off due to injury.
“On paper, I’m favoured by a lot because of the opponents we’ve fought. I’ve fought more high-calibre opponents in my career,” Coté said, “but a fight is a fight — you never know.”
Coté has fought twice before at UFC events in Montreal, but he said the atmosphere never fails to impress.
“I’ve fought in a lot of places for the UFC, but in Montreal, the crowd is just insane,” he said, noting that he is also getting more recognition from fans due to his work as a French-language analyst for the UFC and several sports media outlets.
Meanwhile, Harris — himself an accomplished MMA fighter — had to pull out of a scheduled bout against Jason Zentgraf with the Maximum Fighting Championship promotion on Friday at the Shaw Conference Centre due to a concussion suffered in training, but said he’s back to 100 per cent and ready to get back in the cage.
“I’m going to be competing at jiu-jitsu Pan Ams in [Los Angeles] next month, and then I’ll probably on the next MFC card after that,” he said.
— GLENN COOK, St. Albert Leader