A knee injury put him on the shelf for more than a year, but one-time middleweight title contender Patrick Cote finally has his return date.
Cote will collide with the surging Alan Belcher in a featured 185-pound duel at UFC 113 “Machida vs. Shogun 2” on May 8 at the Bell Centre in Montreal. It will mark his first appearance in the Octagon since the injury prematurely ended his showdown with middleweight king Anderson Silva at UFC 90 some 16 months ago.
Cote -- who has since undergone two knee surgeries, one to repair his anterior-cruciate ligament, the other to reconstruct his medial-collateral ligament -- had won five consecutive fights prior to his ill-fate encounter with Silva. The 29-year-old Rimouski, Quebec, Canada, native, a finalist on Season 4 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” was a two-division champion inside the TKO promotion and also held titles in Maximum Fighting Championships and King of the Cage Canada. Cote, a longtime friend and training partner of UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, owns key wins against former middleweight King of Pancrase Ricardo Almeida, current Strikeforce standout Scott Smith and “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 winner Kendall Grove.
Belcher, an entertaining protégé of former world kickboxing champion Duke Roufus, has won three of his past four fights. The 25-year-old Jonesboro, Ark., native last appeared in December, when he put away American Top Team’s Wilson Gouveia at UFC 107. A Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt known more for his potent stand-up skills, he has delivered 13 of his 15 career victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission. Wins over 2006 Pride Fighting Championships welterweight grand prix finalist Denis Kang, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 runner-up Ed Herman and reigning Sengoku middleweight champion Jorge Santiago bolster his resume.
The lightweights will also get in on the UFC 113 action north of the border, as Canadian Sam Stout collides with Jeremy Stephens.
Stout, a 25-year-old Shawn Tompkins understudy with back-to-back wins on his ledger, has never been knocked out in 21 professional bouts. The London, Ontario, Canada, native last competed in January, when he routed Joe Lauzon in a unanimous decision at UFC 108 in Las Vegas. Stout has shared “Fight of the Night” honors four times in eight Octagon appearances.
The 23-year-old Stephens has lost two of his past three fights but holds notable victories against American Top Team’s Cole Miller, Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Diego Saraiva and former Fury Fighting Championship titleholder Rafael dos Anjos. The heavy-handed Iowan has notched 12 of his 16 wins by KO or TKO.
The strong matchmaking for the UFC’s return to the Great White North does not end there, as the unbeaten Johny Hendricks will toe the line against T.J. Grant in a pivotal welterweight tilt.
Hendricks, a two-time Div. I national champion and four-time All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State University, won for the seventh time in as many tries when he defeated Ricardo Funch by unanimous decision at UFC 107 two months ago. The 26-year-old Oklahoman, having cut his teeth inside World Extreme Cagefighting, dazzled in his Octagon debut in August, when he stopped “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 7 winner Amir Sadollah in just 29 seconds at UFC 101. The stoppage, though controversial, put Hendricks on the map.
A Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt under Jorge Gurgel, Grant has won six of his last seven fights. The 25-year-old, from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada, finished Kevin Burns with first-round punches at UFC 107 in December, as he rebounded nicely from a decision defeat to Korean judoka Dong Hyun Kim. Grant has secured 12 of his 15 career victories by submission.
In another preliminary welterweight match, the reeling Marcus Davis will lock horns with Jonathan Goulet.
Davis, 36, has lost back-to-back fights for just the second time in his career. The Bangor, Maine, native has not competed since his first-round knockout loss to American Top Team’s Ben Saunders at UFC 106 in November. Anchored at Sityodtong U.S.A. Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts, Davis has become a mainstay in the UFC’s European international efforts.
Off the MMA radar for more than a year, Goulet last set foot in the cage back in December 2008, when he succumbed to strikes in 33 seconds against the world-ranked Mike Swick. Wins against former International Fight League champion Jay Hieron, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 2 runner-up Luke Cummo and Cage Force lightweight titleholder Kuniyoshi Hironaka anchor his resume.
A rematch between light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida and 2005 Pride middleweight grand prix winner Mauricio “Shogun” Rua will headline UFC 113. Machida won a controversial unanimous decision over Rua at UFC 104 in October, setting up one of the most anticipate sequels of 2010.