UFC 90 Breakdown: The Main Card

Silva vs. Cote

The fight train keeps on chugging along as UFC 90 brings all those proud to call themselves fight-crazed a card that features the sport’s pound-for-pound kingpin defending his strap and backup bouts sure to make the “Fight of the Night” bonus a tight race.

It’s no wonder two UFC cards in a week is just like too much good whiskey. Mark Twain put it best: It’s just barely enough.

So read on and dig the prognostication or, more likely, be ready to mock my picks come Sunday morning.

Anderson Silva vs. Patrick Cote

Silva Scouting Report
Ht/Wt: 6’2/185 lbs.
Age: 33
Hometown: Curitiba, Brazil
Fighting out of: Curitiba, Brazil
Record: 22-4

The stakes: When you’re on top of the world like UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, every fight means another chance to get knocked off that most lofty of perches. Already regarded as the sport’s premier pound-for-pound fighter, Silva is simply building his UFC legacy at this point and, with the MMA world reeling from news that “The Spider” intends to make his next six fights his last, it would appear that the best fighter alive is running short on time.

Of course, we’ve heard everyone from LaDainian Tomlinson to Floyd Mayweather lay out their retirement plans. The response from the sports world is generally loaded with more cynicism than the entire “Dilbert” collection. Regardless of how seriously you take Silva’s Jim Brown routine, we’re witnessing one of MMA’s soon-to-be legends set the standard for what the next generation must aspire to.

The breakdown: Calling Silva a peerless striker at this point is about as revelatory a proclamation as standing up in a room full of your closest friends and shouting “I ENJOY YOUR COMPANY GREATLY!” Granted, Cote is known for having hands that rival the density of Bill O’Reilly’s head, but Silva’s chin is stout like Guinness and it’s never so much as shown a crack.

Of course, we’ve seen Cote play it conservative before -- most recently against Ricardo Almeida. But the clinch is obviously Silva’s domain, and heading to the mat would be counterproductive for Cote, who hasn’t shown much in the way of jiu-jitsu save for pure defense. Contrast that with Silva, who has shown a flair for the spectacular on the ground in bouts with Dan Henderson and Nate Marquardt. Best to call a spade a spade and say that Silva has all his bases covered against Cote.

Cote Scouting Report
Ht/Wt: 5’11/185 lbs.
Age: 28
Hometown: Rimouski, Quebec, Canada
Fighting out of: Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
Record: 13-4

The stakes: The beneficiary of a poorly timed injury to Yushin Okami, Cote thrust himself into the role of No. 1 contender thanks to a win over Ricardo Almeida that was built on a game plan so conservative, even the ghost of Strom Thurmond could hardly believe it. Now that Cote has his title shot, all he has to do is take out the most dominant champion the UFC has seen in some time.

While the odds are stacked against him, Cote is in the midst of a Cinderella story worthy of Doug Flutie that has seen him go from an 0-4 UFC afterthought to a legitimate contender in less than a year. For Cote, this is about more than just an opportunity to win a title -- it’s an opportunity to prove that the hype that followed him into the UFC was justified after all.

The breakdown: The options aren’t exactly numerous for Cote. His style is entirely predicated on striking, and he hasn’t shown much versatility throughout his career. Standing with Silva is kind of like signing up to be a kamikaze pilot, but Cote has to find a way to make his style work.

His best bet in that regard is to avoid any foolish headfirst displays of machismo and stay outside of Silva’s reach, where the clinch won’t play a role and he can work a tight defense to protect himself from any long-range bombs. If Cote can stay patient, he can focus on looking for openings and using his atomic right hand to counter both leg kicks and jabs. From there, Cote can settle into a groove of accumulating points and perhaps hit the million-dollar punch that no one, least of all Silva, sees coming.

* * *

The bottom line: As much as I’d like to give some hope to all you Cote fans out there, journalistic integrity compels me otherwise. We’ve seen it proven time and time again that even thinking about standing with Silva is the worst idea since zebra print Zubaz, and Cote’s style all but forces him to do so.

Get ready for Silva to add another notch to his belt as Cote takes his chances on the feet and ends up getting undressed faster than EliteXC burned through money. At this point, polar bear vs. Anderson Silva is starting to look like a logical matchup.

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