WelterweightDonald Cerrone (29-7) vs. Patrick Cote (23-9)
THE MATCHUP: Yet another difficult-to-parse pairing serves as our co-main event, this one between two hardy UFC veterans with well-rounded skill sets. Interestingly, this will be Cerrone’s second welterweight fight, but he finds himself faced with a former light heavyweight who made his name at 185 pounds.
The result is a difficult matchup against a very powerful and very savvy fighter. Though Cerrone is both longer and taller than Cote, “The Predator” is a broad and physically powerful man with a style that makes the most of his strength. Not much of a knockout artist at middleweight, Cote’s power has translated quite well to welterweight, enhanced by a renewed focus on technique and craft. As a striker, Cote prefers to make up for his reach disadvantage by fighting at long range and drawing in his opponent, countering with the right hand or flashing the jab before rushing in behind it. He is also a powerful kicker, happy to chip away at his opponents’ legs until they feel pressured to commit.
Cerrone is a dangerous kicker in his own right, with more variety than Cote, both in terms of weapons and set-ups. “Cowboy” throws a vicious switch kick off the left leg and batters his opponent’s thigh with the right, mixing in gut-wrenching front kicks for good measure. He hides these techniques behind throwaway punches. While his habit of wading into the pocket with both hands extended has improved in recent years, with sharper footwork to boot, he is still susceptible to counters while punching. His stepping knees, some of the best in the business, make for excellent counters to these counters, however. Cerrone has also been a willing wrestler in recent years. Despite his frame, he has a sharp reactive double-leg, and he sometimes uses a knee tap to finish. When these takedowns fail, he will open up with clinch strikes while his opponent works back to his feet. When they succeed, Cerrone is an aggressive, submission-oriented grappler. His specialty is the triangle choke, which Cerrone finds both from top position and from guard. He often uses the omoplata and armbar off of this attack and utilizes the resultant confusion to create a scramble or sweep.
Cote’s grappling is decidedly old-school but not to be taken lightly. Despite being outmatched on paper, Cote managed to lock in an armbar on Ben Saunders that put “The Predator” in top position. Cote has also been more willing to wrestle since his resurgence, but he relies more on strength than airtight technique, and he remains susceptible to the takedowns of his opponent.
THE ODDS: Cerrone (-166), Cote (+141)
THE PICK: Cerrone is the logical pick. Despite more wear and tear than most fighters his age, he is still three years Cote’s junior. Cote’s predilection for long range works well against aggressive punchers, but Cerrone’s long kicks and counter knees will make it difficult for the Canadian to have his way in open space. Cote remains one of the most durable fighters in the sport, while Cerrone has been hurt in many of his recent fights, but “Cowboy” is rarely easy to put away and his mixed game should be enough to either keep Cote at range or on his back. This is a tough matchup for him, but Cerrone by unanimous decision is the pick.
Next Fight » Bosse vs. O’Connell