03/16/2013 07:00 EDT | Updated 05/16/2013 05:12 EDT

Cutting weight in the UFC: Having a professional helps doing the diet right

MONTREAL - There wasn't much of Patrick (The Predator) Cote's face visible under the woollen cap he wore against Montreal's cold, but it was still hard not to miss his bearded smile.

Two days out from UFC 158, one would have expected the veteran Montreal mixed martial artist to be miserable due to his weight cut — especially given he has made the move from middleweight (185 pounds) to welterweight (170).

A beaming Cote weighed in at 169 pounds Friday and he looked ripped.

"It's crazy all the knowledge I have now," he said the day before the weigh-in. "Working with professional nutrionists changed a lot of things."

After rehydrating and eating, the former Canadian soldier expects to weigh 190 and 192 when he climbs into the cage Saturday night at the Bell Centre against Bobby Voelker.

The five-foot-11 Cote normally walks around between 210 and 215 pounds. But as a middleweight, Cote was going against fighters who cut down from 225 to 235 pounds.

"I was a small middleweight," he said. "The logical choice for me was to drop to welterweight."

Most elite fighters today have help cutting weight or eating right.

Dropping back to lightweight (155 pounds) after competing as a welterweight on "The Ultimate Fighter," reality TV show, Montreal's Mike Ricci hired a chef in advance of his UFC 158 fight against England's Colin (The Freakshow) Fletcher.

"I've been feeling unbelievable," said the six-foot Ricci, who could weight 180 pounds fight night after rehydrating, eating and having an IV to replenish fluids.

Calgary middleweight Nick (The Promise) Ring, who can weigh as much as 206 pounds when not fighting, does his own cooking. His training camp diet consists of "salmon and rice, basically. A lot of fish."

So is he tired of fish?

"No, I like it," he said with a laugh. "When you cook it the way I do, you're going to like it. I spice it up, it's good."

He expects to weigh 193 in the cage Saturday.

Does a slice of pizza ever pass his lips, he was asked.

The answer was a definitive yes.

"Nick Ring loves pizza," he said. "Nick Ring also loves coffee. That's probably my worst habit, here. ... (But) it gets rid of your appetite too."

The six-foot-one Ring has nutritional help from Dr. Natasha Iyer of the Better 4 Life medical centre.

"It's a really important part of this game," Ring said. "You've got to keep the body as fit as possible and nutrition, I'm going to say, is at least 50 per cent of it."

It takes discipline.

Cote woke up Thursday at 181 pounds. His menu for the day involved sticking to his diet until 5 p.m. After that, he began to reduce water intake.

"My body's going to start to flush because we stopped the salt (Wednesday) at noon," he explained.

He expected that to reduce his weight by seven to eight pounds alone. A trip to the sauna Thursday evening was also in the cards.

He expected to only have to cut two pounds Thursday.

Rather than tucking into ribs at a restaurant after the weigh-in, Cote was headed home to eat food prepared by nutritionist Jean-Francois Gaudreau, who also works with the Montreal Canadiens. The fighter says he is eating clean these days.

"It's a lot different. The thing I'm going to put in my body is not junk food, it's going to be good food."

"When you know how to do it, you don't need to starve yourself," he added.

Rather than diet changes, Cote says he has made lifestyle changes.

As a result, he feels more energetic and needs less sleep "because I sleep so well."

Welterweight will mark the third UFC weight class Cote has competed in. He was bumped up to light-heavyweight and promoted to the main event in his UFC debut at UFC 50 in 2004 when former champion Tito Ortiz's opponent was injured at the last minute.

At the time, Cote had a photo of Ortiz as his computer's screensaver.

Cote lost a decision but wobbled Ortiz at one point. He used a photo of that moment to replace the Ortiz screensaver.

Cote went 5-7 as a middleweight in the UFC but that included a 4-0 run, which earned him a title shot against Anderson Silva at UFC 90 in October 2008. He lost that fight, blowing out his knee in the third round but took the champion deeper than most.

He has gone 1-3 since, suffering through two bouts of knee surgery. And one of those losses came after being spiked on the head by Alan (The Talent) Belcher.

His most recent win came by disqualification at UFC 154 last November after Alessio Sakara was sanctioned for illegal blows to the back of the head.