This Saturday at UFC 113, former title challenger Patrick Cote makes his return to the octagon after a year-and-a-half layoff. His last UFC appearance was October 25 at UFC 90, where he failed to capture the middleweight title from Anderson Silva.
After two uneventful rounds that saw Silva debut his new style—consisting of more dancing and taunting than actual fighting—Cote stepped awkwardly and tore the meniscus of his already injured knee. The bout was quickly called off after the referee saw that Cote could not continue.
Though this was one of the more criticized title fights in recent memory, Cote took pride in the fact that he was the first one in the UFC able to enter the third round with Silva. You can look at that in a couple ways, but most would give him little credit for barely engaging with the champion for two rounds, and then suffering a freak injury and falling to the ground not by any action of his opponent.
Cote was criticized before his title shot as an undeserving challenger, and the fight seemed to make those complaints legitimate.
This weekend Cote faces off against Alan Belcher in a fight that was originally scheduled to take place at UFC 83. Cote had pulled out of that fight due to a knee injury. One has to wonder if Cote would have ever got that title shot had he not pulled out of his fight with Belcher.
Belcher is the slight favorite at the moment, which I certainly wouldn't argue with. My question is: Why is he the favorite?
Cote certainly didn't look any worse in his fight with Silva than he ever has previously in his career. The loss was a result of a prior injury that struck at the worst time possible. Would Belcher have been the favorite over Cote if their first scheduled match had gone forward?
Belcher looked terrible against his replacement, Jason Day, at UFC 83. He has since gone 3-1 in the UFC, with the lone loss being a close split-decision. Are the odds a result of Belcher looking better than he ever has before? Or are the odds a reaction to Cote's long layoff?
What I wonder is, was Cote expected to beat Belcher then? If so, then why is he not now? And if not, then why was he soon after awarded a shot at the best fighter in the division?
In my opinion, he was given the shot like a weak cow is sacrificed to a river of piranhas; in order for the rest of the herd to survive. In other words, he was there to kill time while more threatening middleweight contenders arose.
Lasting more than two rounds with Silva was some sort of weird charity on the part of the Brazilian.
Cote's fight this weekend against Belcher should be a shootout, but the UFC has no plans for Cote to win this fight. He is yet again being used as a sacrificial lamb for the surging Belcher, who the UFC has big ideas for.
If Belcher can finish Cote in under two rounds, then prepare yourself to hear Joe Rogan and Dana White boast about how much better Belcher looked than the champion when he fought the tough Cote.
That is the plan, and that is where my money is going.