Bobby Voelker compiled a 4-1 mark in Strikeforce. | Jeff Sherwood
Bobby Voelker spent more than a decade striving to reach the hallowed Octagon of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. His journey will soon bear some serious fruit.
Voelker will ride the momentum of a three-fight winning streak into his promotional debut against Patrick Cote at UFC 158 “St. Pierre vs. Diaz” on March 16 on the Bell Centre in Montreal. The 33-year-old welterweight last appeared at Strikeforce Challengers 17 in July 2011, when he stopped Roger Bowling on second-round punches in the rubber match of their trilogy at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.
During his career, Voelker has established his reputation as a potent finisher, having delivered 19 of his 24 wins by knockout, technical knockout or submission. He will enter the UFC still in search of a signature victory.
Cote fought Anderson Silva for the middleweight crown at UFC 90 in October 2008 but has faded into relative obscurity in the four years since, as injuries and inconsistency have taken their toll. A perfect 13-0 outside the UFC, the 33-year-old Canadian has struggled to perform with any regularity inside the Octagon. Cote last fought at UFC 154 in November, when he was awarded a disqualification against Alessio Sakara after the Italian boxer belted him with repeated illegal blows to the back of the head.
In this exclusive interview with Sherdog.com, Voelker discusses the influences on his career, his forthcoming challenge against Cote and the impact his long layoff could have in his first UFC appearance:
Sherdog.com: Now 33 years old and 32 fights into your professional career, did you ever wonder sometimes whether or not you would reach the point of making it to the UFC?
Voelker: My goal has always been to get to the UFC. I knew if I stayed on the path of hard training and dedication that I would finally achieve my goal of fighting in the UFC.
Sherdog.com: How would you describe yourself as a fighter?
Voelker: I would describe myself as a tough fighter with a lot of heart. I also adapt to other fighters quickly and figure them out.
Sherdog.com: Who do you consider the greatest influences on your career?
Voelker: My trainer, Brad Jones, has been the greatest influence because he has been at my side from the beginning of my fight career. He has gotten me to the level I’m at today.
Sherdog.com: What difficulties does Cote present as an opponent?
Voelker: The challenge with Patrick is he’s a smart, durable fighter with slick footwork and heavy hands.
Sherdog.com: How did you find out about the opportunity to fight at UFC 158?
Voelker: My manager, Jesse Finney, gave me an early Christmas present when he called me and told me that UFC wanted me to fight Patrick. I was excited and couldn’t believe it. It was more exciting when I found out I was going to fight him on his home territory.
Sherdog.com: What would a victory over someone of Cote’s stature mean for you?
Voelker: When I get the victory I believe it will put me on the map. He has fought a lot of big names, and it will be a great win to start off my UFC career.
Sherdog.com: Do you feel like the deck is sort of stacked against you with having to fight him in Montreal?
Voelker: No, I don’t feel that the deck is stacked against me at all. It doesn’t matter where the fight is held at. I always train hard and focus on my opponent. Every fight is motivating to me. It’s my passion, and I want to win. I don’t worry about advantages and disadvantages. I come to perform and put on a good show wherever the fight is held.
Sherdog.com: What do you need to do in order to be successful in the UFC?
Voelker: I feel I need to win and put on a great performance for the fans.
Sherdog.com: What do you want to accomplish with what is left of your MMA career?
Voelker: I want to stay healthy and have epic battles in the cage.
Sherdog.com: Are you concerned at all about your layoff, seeing as though you have not fought in almost two years?
Voelker: No, I’m not concerned about the layoff. If anything, I’m hungrier now than I’ve ever been. My camp is going great, and this will be my best performance yet.