SPORTS

After 10 years, Patrick (The Predator) Cote at ease in the UFC cage

09/25/2014 03:29 EDT | Updated 11/25/2014 05:59 EST
After 10 years and 15 fights in the UFC, Montreal welterweight Patrick (The Predator) Cote says he fights for fun these days.

And why not. The 34-year-old Cote has pretty much seen it all.

In his UFC debut in 2004, he was moved from the undercard to the main event at the last minute — not to mention elevated a weight class — when former light-heavyweight champion Tito Otiz needed an opponent at UFC 50 (Cote lost but acquitted himself well).

He made the final of Season 4 of "The Ultimate Fighter," fought Anderson Silva for the middleweight title, endured both losing and winning streaks, suffered through knee surgeries, was cut by UFC and fought in three weight classes.

So heading into his third fight at 170 pounds, it's perhaps no surprise that Cote feels no pressure in meeting Stephen (Wonderboy) Thompson at UFC 178 in Las Vegas on Saturday.

"I feel so good right now because I have what was missing in my team before," Cote said in an interview. "I have a good nutritionist, I have a sports psychologist, I feel like I have no weakness around me any more. I feel like my team is complete now and I have no worries about anything.

"And the thing is I'm 34 years old, I have the experience now, I'm more mature. I'm going one fight at a time. I have built my after-career already, so I'm fighting because I still enjoy it and not because I need it. It's 10 times easier, I'm not nervous. I'm going there to have fun but I put a lot of energy and sacrifice in my training camp to be very very ready for this fight."

Cote (21-8 including 7-8 in the UFC) already has a second career in TV, serving as a sport analyst at TVA Sports and French-language colour commentator for the UFC.

Cote will yield his UFC commentary position to a fill-in this weekend.

"He's pretty good but I'm better," Cote said with a laugh.

The former middleweight last fought in April, earning a decision over Kyle Noke. Uninjured, he wanted to get back into the cage as soon as possible.

"But at the same time I wanted a good fight and a good name and nobody was available," he said.

He also wanted to return to Las Vegas having fought the last three times in Quebec. Since defeating Ricardo Almeida at UFC 86 in July 2008, Cote has fought seven times in the UFC but only once in Vegas (a loss to Cung Le at UFC 148 in July 2012)

"They gave me this opportunity. It's against a good guy and I think with a win, I'll be very close to cracking the top 15," Cote said.

Cote doesn't mind being on the preliminary card. He says it allows him to watch the rest of the fighters.

"My paycheque doesn't change if I'm on the main card or the prelims," he said.

His place on the card does affect sponsorship interest, he conceded. "But right now, to be honest with you, the sponsorship market is not very good."

Cote and Thompson (9-1) trained briefly together in Montreal in 2008.

"We know each other pretty well," Cote said of the 31-year-old South Carolina native, a former undefeated kickboxer. "We respect each other but at the end of the day there's going to be only one winner and I truly believe that's going to be me. For a lot of reasons.

"Stephen Thompson is very crafty on his feet, he has flashy moves and he's very accurate. But he's like that when you let him take the pace of the fight. If I try to make a technical fight with him, he's going to make me look bad.

"He's not going to hurt me. I have more power than him. I have better wrestling, I have better jiu-jitsu but I have to be careful about his flashy moves and his footwork. I have to cut all the angles of the cage, not run after him and put a lot of pressure and bully him. I have to make it like a brawl."

If Cote needs a reminder, he just has to think of the Le fight. Cote believes he lost to the flashy former world kickboxing champion because he ran after him as the bout progressed.

Cote has expanded his training regimen in recent years.

After dropping to 170 pounds to beat Bobby Voelker at UFC 158, he went back to school to learn more about nutrition.

"I thought I knew something nutrition but I didn't know anything. Seriously."

For this fight, he spent two weeks in Thailand — his second training stint there. He also added swimming and sprinting to his routine.

His body looks the better for it.

"It looks like my body reacted differently this time," he said. "We've been working with my nutritionist on a new meal plan, new things around my training ... It's a good result at the end."

A tweet Tuesday from his last training session showed Cote showing off a six-pack.

"I fought most of my career at 185 (pounds) so we weren't sure if I had one," joked Cote. "It's good, it's really there."

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