When the Ultimate Fighting Championship rolls into the Windy City this Saturday, several questions will be answered on the card’s featured bouts. Current middleweight champion Anderson “The Spider” Silva puts his title—and seven fight UFC win streak—on the line against a resurgent Patrick “The Predator” Cote. In the night’s other featured match up, Josh Koscheck will take on the fast rising Thiago Alves, a match that could have welterweight title implications.
All four fighters linked up on a conference call for UFC 90 to give their thoughts on matchups, title implications, and fight preparation.
Silva vs. Cote
Patrick Cote will be standing across from the man many consider to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in MMA today in Anderson Silva. The thought of facing a man who dismantled many of the biggest names in the middleweight division would be a daunting task for most. Cote—riding a four fight winning streak in the UFC—is unmoved by Silva’s Octagon supremacy.
“I’m going to go in and test his chin for sure,” Cote says of his plans. “We know exactly how to beat him. I just have to do it. We really think that we can win this fight and take his belt.”
If one were listening to the call and knew nothing about MMA, it’d be easy to believe that Silva, heavily favored to win on Saturday, was the challenger. Ed Soares, Silva’s manager says the Brazilian fighter is focusing 100 percent on Patrick Cote, recalling that Silva said, “When I looked into Patrick cote’s eyes, I could tell he’s coming to fight.”
“Right now he’s focused on Patrick Cote and we’re not looking past that,” he adds. “That’s where his mind is at right now; to go out, perform well and beat Patrick.”
Talk of a Silva retirement in 2009 dominated much of the discourse, with Soares saying that the champion wants to end his career on a high note.
“What Anderson wants to do is be involved in the biggest fights,” Soares says of Silva’s future. “He wants to fight the best in the world and put on the fights that the world wants to see. He wants to actively defend his title, but his goal is to be involved with some of the biggest fights in UFC history.”
When pressed for names of potential opponents, Soares remained elusive, leaving it up to UFC management and the fans.
“There are so many great fighters in the UFC that you could pick and choose. Anderson isn’t one to call out fighters. That’s a question you should ask the fans. We want to put on the fights the fans want to see. “
Blockbuster fights aside, Silva is wise to focus on a rejuvenated “Predator,” who could talk of little more than capturing the title.
“I’ve been training for two months and I can’t wait to unleash the fury and become the next champion of the world,” Cote says confidently.
Koscheck vs. Alves
Taking a fight on short notice is often seen as a risky move—particularly when the potential fight is one of high profile. When Diego “Nightmare” Sanchez injured his back and was forced off the UFC 90 card, fellow Ultimate Fighter alum Josh Koscheck stepped in to face Thiago Alves without hesitation. Even after training for a Sanchez, Alves is not fazed by the last minute change, noting that a match up with Koscheck is better for his career than a fight with Sanchez.
“Josh beat Diego before and for me, it’s a better name for me to fight,” Alves says of his newly announced opponent. “His style meshes better with my fighting style. He’s a good wrestler with good jiu-jitsu; it’s a better match up for me. Diego is kind of awkward style wise, he’s kind of tricky.”
Koscheck echoes the sentiment. “I’m glad that I’m better than Diego. It’s a better fight for the fans. It’s what the UFC wanted and we both stepped up and agreed to fight each other. Taking this fight on short notice shows that we’re real fighters. My style is definitely different than Diego’s. He’s a south paw, I’m a righty.”
Though Koscheck was already in training for a December bout, he doesn’t mind the sudden shift, saying he’s used to fighting on short notice.
“On the Ultimate Fighter, we fought on two days notice. This is nothing new to me; I’ve been fighting my whole life. Thiago’s been on a tear lately beating Matt Hughes and knocking out Karo Parysian, why not take the fight.”
For Alves, no matter who the opponent is, or how much notice is given before the fight, he considers it another day at the office.
“I’ve been fighting since I was 15,” he says of his career. “That’s ten years. My first couple fights in MMA were in Brazil at 17. I’ve pretty much fought my whole life. That’s what I do.”
Alves also believes this matchup will determine the number one contender for Georges St-Pierre’s welterweight title.
“After this fight, there should be no reason either of us aren’t given a title shot. “