Patrick Cote is a fighter living on borrowed time in the UFC. He was cut from the promotion after losing to Tom Lawlor at UFC 121, a fight in which Cote managed a grand total of six significant strikes in three rounds. Cote returned as an injury replacement against Cung Le at UFC 148, losing a competitive decision. In his last two fights, Cote won by disqualification to Alessio Sakara (in a fight Cote was well on his way to losing) and skated by with a questionable decision victory over Bobby Voelker.
Cote is at his best when he’s allowed to stand and strike, but even then, he’s a fighter who is more likely to get in a brawl than pick apart his opponents with precision. By UFC standards, Cote’s striking is merely adequate and his grappling is among the worst in the promotion. The reality is that Cote could easily be on a six fight losing streak in the UFC right now.
Despite this reality, Cote opened as the betting favorite to beat TUF Nations counterpart Kyle Noke. This surprised me quite a bit because I probably have a higher opinion of Noke than most people. Noke ranks 15th in the UFC welterweight division in FPR because of the following statistics:
- Significant Strikes: Noke 134, opponents 67
- Knockdowns: Noke 2, opponents 0
- Takedowns: Noke 8, opponents 2
- Guard Passes: Noke 11, opponents 3
- Submission Attempts: Noke 4, opponents 3
- Finishes: Noke 4, opponents 1
Noke has out-struck, out-wrestled, and out-grappled his opponents in the UFC so far, leading to an FPR rating above fighters like Matt Brown, Josh Koscheck, and Tarec Saffiedine. Not bad for a fighter who was merely an also-ran on the 11th season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Of course, these statistics need to be put in context. Noke’s victories have come against Josh Bryant, Rob Kimmons, Chris Camozzi, and the glass-jawed Charlie Brenneman. He lost a decision to Andrew Craig and was submitted by Ed Herman. FPR attempts to adjust for the strength of a fighter’s opponents using historical Fight Matrix data, but in cases like Noke’s it’s quite possible the opponent adjustment just isn’t strong enough.
In any case, I feel like this is a terrific style match for Noke. If Noke is as aggressive in takedowns and grappling as usual, he should be able to take Cote to the ground without too much difficulty – Cote’s takedown defense is very poor at 49 percent. On the ground, Noke has to be considered a serious threat to finish Cote by submission, as Cote has three submission losses in his UFC career.
Even if Cote gets his way and is able to engage Noke in a striking match, I’m not convinced Cote should be a large favorite in that scenario. Cote’s been very easy to hit in his recent career, and Noke has shown very respectable hands throughout his UFC fights. I think Noke has serious potential to out-point Cote with strikes here.
So why is Noke only the slightest of favorites to win (at the time of this writing, which is well before it will be published on this blog)? There are two factors that jump out at me. As Martin Jacobson pointed out on Twitter, the fight is in Quebec and a judges’ decision is likely to be biased in Cote’s favor. Another factor is that Noke hasn’t fought in about a year and a half and is likely to experience “cage rust.”
Those factors are enough to make me think it’s possible I’m walking into a trap. The betting public may be more sophisticated than I am in regards to this fight. But from the evidence I’ve seen, I just think Noke is the superior fighter and should be able to get the job done in this one.
Pick: Kyle Noke by submission