Patrick Cote was less than a week removed from his unanimous decision victory over Kyle Noke at the TUF Nations Finale in Canada when he heard his name being uttered as a possible opponent for a top 10 ranked welterweight.
Out of nowhere, Cote started getting messages that former Bellator champion turned UFC welterweight powerhouse Hector Lombard was calling for the two of them to fight each other. Lombard was originally targeting former UFC title contender Nick Diaz, but with the Stockton bad boy on hiatus and not looking to return any time soon, he turned his attention to Cote.
As a fighter current sitting outside of the rankings, having a top 10 rated competitor call you out would seem to be the perfect scenario, but Cote didn’t exactly see it that way.
"That was a strange call from Hector, he’s a super athlete, phenomenal fighter, very powerful, but at the same time I don’t understand what he did," Cote told FOX Sports. "He tried to call out Nick Diaz and he wanted a top guy, and he’s ranked No. 5 or No. 6 so it doesn’t make any sense to call me out. I’m not even in the top 15 now in the welterweight division."
Long term, Cote wants to get a crack at the top 10, but he’s also smart enough to know that it’s not going to happen overnight and the slow and steady approach is the best way to ease back into that level of competition. He’s not opposed to facing Lombard necessarily, but from a rankings standpoint he doesn’t understand why his name was chosen amongst all the welterweights available.
This fight’s not going to happen. It doesn’t make any sense for him, it doesn’t make any sense for the UFC, and that was just strange.
— Patrick Cote on Hector Lombard's call out
So for now, Cote is declining Lombard’s invite to dance.
"This fight’s not going to happen," Cote said. "It doesn’t make any sense for him, it doesn’t make any sense for the UFC, and that was just strange."
There is one way the fight could get put together, however, and that depends on UFC matchmaker Joe Silva. Cote admits that when the UFC comes calling and if they ask him to fight Lombard, he’ll always say yes.
"I never backed down from any fight," Cote said. "If something happened, I’ll go. I never say no to the UFC, and I have a good relationship with the UFC, but right now this is a nonsense fight for both of us, especially him. He’s not having anything positive to fight me."
As far as what he actually wants next for his own career, Cote hopes to land a sizable name as he continues to approach the top 10 in the division. He learned through painful experience in his previous runs at middleweight that gunning for the top spot takes time, and there’s no fast track to the title shot.
He’ll be ready to tackle the top five fighters in the world soon enough, but after a year off from the sport while coaching The Ultimate Fighter and finally getting back in the win column with his latest fight, Cote is slowly stepping into the pool — not diving into the deep end.
"I want a big fight now. I think now I’m in a good position to have a big fight and a good fight to move me higher in the rankings of the welterweight division," Cote said.
"I’m not stupid, I know that I’m not close now. Give me good fights, and in two or three fights then I’ll be close."