by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
With the semifinal match-ups starting just a week from now, the last of the preliminary bouts were all set to take place with Canadian Patrick Cote facing off against Boston native, Jorge Rivera. Both Rivera and Cote were heavy favorites for the middleweight division from the start of the show, so to see these two square off in the first round of fights opens the door wide open for any of the other 185-pound fighters to step up for a chance at the finals.
While the focus for the show tried to be about Cote vs. Rivera, the showstopper as always was Shonie Carter. Personalities make the Ultimate Fighter and this season it has been all about Shonie Carter and his teammate, Matt Serra, who have been omnipresent for pretty much all of the interesting scenarios during “The Comeback.”
Carter decided in this episode that he was going to train with Team No Love instead of his own squad, which irritated his opposition to no end. Jorge Rivera was especially vocal along with the rest of the team, but Shonie’s no holds barred attitude simply made the show. While the majority of Shonie’s verbal jarring with Team No Love can’t be repeated, his commentary equaled out to “I don’t give a flying rat’s ass” (which was actually one of his less obligatory comments) what the other team said, he was training with whoever he wanted.
Once his own team arrived, they asked Shonie to respect the set-up of the team format and Carter agreed to return to Team Mojo. For the second show in a row, the UFC brought in another special coach to help out the teams, this time being light heavyweight champion and currently ranked #1 205-pound fighter in the world, Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell. The ovation from the teams meant they did recognize the talent walking into the training center when Liddell stepped in.
The showdown between Cote and Rivera was preceded of course by highlights of both fighters previous UFC experience. Cote, who is currently 0-3 in the UFC, has had an extremely tough run of opponents since first stepping into the Octagon. His first fight was against Tito Ortiz on less than one week’s notice after The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’s original opponent had to drop out due to injury. Cote took the fight like a warrior and held his own taking Ortiz to decision but losing in the end. Rivera’s battles were also shown, including his war from UFC 50 with current champion Rich Franklin. The fight was back and forth for its entirety, until Franklin caught Rivera in an armbar putting an end to the bout.
As the fight opened, Rivera shot in and clinched quickly as to avoid Cote’s very heavy hands and eventually got a takedown landing him in the Canadian’s guard. Rivera seemed like he was struggling to keep Cote down more than opening up any strong offense. Rivera stood up at one point and got absolutely blasted by an upkick from Cote that sent him crashing down to the canvas. Cote, recognizing the opening, immediately jumped on his downed opponent and started to fire down shot after shot. Rivera was able to recover enough to pull half guard and eventually full guard, but he went from winning the round to definitely giving the 1st to Cote after the upkick and turn around on the ground.
The 2nd round started with Cote in hot pursuit of Rivera, who looked somewhat winded, and the fight made its way to the ground with Cote in control. Rivera was able to latch onto a guillotine choke (or Swick-o-tine if you prefer) but Cote defended and escaped, landing back in Rivera’s guard throwing down punches and elbows. The final horn sounded and there was little doubt as to who won. Referee Herb Dean announced Patrick Cote as the victor by unanimous decision and the former TKO champion got his first win the UFC after 4 tries.
Next week the semifinal match-ups will be announced as the finals are just weeks away and the winner awaiting a return to UFC action as well as a guaranteed title shot against the champion.