Montreal – Patrick Côté and Ringside are both looking to move up in the world of MMA. For now, they’ve decided working together is the best way. On April 9, Côté will headline Ringside 10, the organization’s Bell Centre debut, against fellow UFC veteran Kalib Starnes. Côté hopes this will be his first step back toward the big leagues.
Almost two years to the day his knee gave out in a middleweight championship bout against Anderson Silva at UFC 90, Côté found himself out of a job. It was October 2010, and following a third straight loss, the UFC had cut him for the second time in his career. It was just the latest misfortune for ‘The Predator.’
The 2008 loss to Silva had been followed by surgery to repair his injured right joint. “The operation on my knee was a big one,” Côté said. “Two months after, I had to have it done again. The first one hadn’t worked.”
More than a year passed before he was able to make his return to the octagon. “When I showed up at the Bell Centre to fight Alan Belcher, I was in very good shape,” he said, referring to his May 2010 bout at UFC 113. “I had no worries about my knee, but unfortunately I lost.”
He needed surgery on his right hand after the fight, but thankfully his lay off was much shorter this time. Unfortunately, he wasn’t at a hundred per cent going into a bout with Tom Lawlor at UFC 121. “I injured myself two days before the fight,” said Côté. A slipped disk in his back contributed to a decision loss. Within a week, he got more bad news from the UFC, which quickly spread across the internet.
“Fifteen minutes after I’d been cut, it was like the jungle,” recalled Côté. “We were getting calls, people were bugging us. It was almost harassment by a lot of organizations.” It was at this point that Ringside MMA got into the mix, doing it’s best to sign Côté for his first post-UFC bout.
By that point, the Montreal-based organization had staged eight events, slowly but surely building it’s reputation. “With every card we tried to make it bigger and better,” said Ringside President Eric Champoux. “Bigger stadiums, and bigger sponsors.”
After holding its ninth event in November 2010, Ringside’s second at the 2500 capacity Centre Pierre-Charbonneau, Champoux thought the time was finally right to move to up. “From our first event, our goal was to make it to the Bell Center,” he said.
Protracted negotiations with Côté were finally completed on January 18. Set to return in his hometown, the fighter tweeted that day that ‘the comeback road is started.’ Champoux had the big name he needed to help promote an event at Montrea’s premier sports arena.
For Côté, the opportunity Ringside offered him to get back into the UFC was a key factor in his decision to sign. “My intentions are clear – I’ll help him build his event, he’ll help me get back to where I want to be,” he said. “Eric knows exactly what I want, and he respects it.”
His opponent Kalib Starnes doesn’t worry him. “He’s a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, and really dangerous on the ground,” the Predator said. “He’ll try to put me on my back and work his submissions, but I’ve trained with black belts who are on another level than he is. I don’t think he’ll be able to take me down.”
“I plan to stay on my feet and knock him out,” Côté added. “I saw him recently (in a fight Starnes won at Wreck MMA: Strong and Proud), and I hope he’ll be in better shape than that on April 9. Otherwise, the night’s going to be ‘not so long’ for him.”
Though he may lose his headliner after a second contracted fight set for early June in Quebec City, Champoux went in knowing this. Côté is a way for him to grow his organization’s name and status. “Patrick is an ambassador for Ringside,” said the promoter. “He’ll leave his spot for future promising athletes.” With the strong level of talent coming up in Quebec, Champoux intends to make Ringside Canada’s top MMA promotion.
For his part, Côté is optimistic about his chances of being back in the UFC by year’s end. “I’m 31 years old,” he said. “In my head, I know I can beat three-quarters of the UFC’s middleweight fighters. I’ve just had a run of bad luck. I fought the best fighter in the world, and I held my own, so I think I can do it again.”