Former UFC middleweight title challenger Patrick Cote is expected to return to the Octagon at UFC 148 to take on onetime Strikeforce champion Cung Le.
Sherdog.com confirmed the planned booking with a source close to the bout on Thursday. Cote steps in on short notice to replace ex-UFC titlist Rich Franklin after “Ace” was pulled from his bout with Le in order to replace an injured Vitor Belfort in the UFC 147 headliner against Wanderlei Silva. MMAJunkie.com first reported the switch.
UFC 148 takes place July 7 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and is headlined by a long-anticipated middleweight title rematch between champion Anderson Silva and challenger Chael Sonnen. The main draw airs live on pay-per-view and also features a 135-pound clash between Urijah Faber and Renan Pegado, as “The California Kid” and “Barao” battle over the interim bantamweight championship.
Cote, 32, returns to the Octagon following a 19-month absence during which he compiled a four-fight winning streak. A nine-year pro, “The Predator” challenged Silva for the middleweight strap in 2008, only to have a knee injury end his title aspirations in the third round at UFC 90. Cote then suffered defeats to Alan Belcher and Tom Lawlor that signaled his UFC release. Since receiving his walking papers, Cote notched wins over Kalib Starnes, Todd Brown and Crafton Wallace before knocking out Gustavo Machado at Amazon Forest Combat 2 on March 31.
One of the sport’s most well-known san shou stylists, Le, 40, fought the entirety of his pro MMA career in the Strikeforce cage before making his UFC debut against “The Axe Murderer” in November at UFC 139. Silva stopped Le in the second round of their bout, finishing the Californian with a series of knees and punches. Le has never been to a decision in his six-year MMA career, recording all seven of his victories via knockout.