Kyle Noke has not fought in roughly 19 months. | Photo: D. Mandel/Sherdog.com
WelterweightsKyle Noke (20-6-1, 4-2 UFC) vs. Patrick Cote (19-8, 6-8 UFC)
The Matchup: The coaches for “The Ultimate Fighter Nations” were pretty low-key during the reality show, so any talk of a manufactured rivalry can be avoided. What is more important for both men is a chance to return to active competition; Cote has not fought since March 2013, while Noke has been out of action since September 2012.
After an up-and-down Octagon stint at 185 pounds that included an unlikely title shot against Anderson Silva, Cote made a successful debut at welterweight, outpointing Bobby Voelker at UFC 158. The Canadian’s boxing carried him to victory, as he attacked Voelker with uppercuts and punching combinations to the body and head. Cote’s chin and powerful right hand have always been his calling cards, and nothing figures to change here. His takedown defense can only be described as so-so in recent bouts, as evidenced by Voelker staging a late rally with three third-round takedowns before falling via unanimous decision.
Noke, meanwhile, made short work of Charlie Brenneman at UFC 152, wobbling the wrestler with a jab and right cross on the feet before finishing the job with follow-up strikes to win by technical knockout in just 45 seconds. Shoulder surgery and “The Ultimate Fighter” coaching gig has kept the Aussie on the sidelines since then. Noke, who had not competed at welterweight since 2006 before facing Brenneman, elected to return to the division in part because he did not have to cut weight to make 185 pounds. While Noke had a significant size advantage against Brenneman, who has since dropped to lightweight, there will not be a similar discrepancy versus Cote. The Jackson-Wink MMA product does have a slight reach edge of one inch and is three inches taller than “The Predator.”
Noke is a capable kickboxer who also has a solid chin -- his only knockout loss in 27 career bouts came at the hands of Scott Smith in 2007. Cote is usually content to counter on the outside and then neutralize his opponent’s return attacks by forcing clinches. The Aussie can counter this approach with versatile offense by mixing together his punches and kicks. Noke also does a decent job of disguising his shot with strikes, and on the ground he will look to advance position and hunt for submissions.
Cote is far more likely to try and make this a brawl on the feet. It will be Noke’s job to keep him off-balance by utilizing varied striking, good movement and wrestling when the situation calls for it.
The Pick: Noke wins by decision.
Next Fight » Chad Laprise vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier