TORONTO - Matt Serra knows a thing or two about upsets and the former welterweight champion believes Canadian Patrick (The Predator) Cote can topple middleweight champion Anderson Silva at UFC 90 on Saturday in Chicago.
Not everyone sees the mixed martial arts bout at the Allstate Arena that way.
Silva, viewed by most as the top pound-for-pound MMA fighter on the planet, is a 7-1 favourite, according to some bookmakers. The Brazilian (22-4) is 7-0 in the UFC, a run that includes two dominant wins over former 185-pound champion Rich Franklin. Only three of those fights have made it past the first round.
Most recently he moved up to light-heavyweight and annihilated James (The Sandman) Irvin.
At 6-2, Silva is a deadly striker with a combine-harvester attack of knees, elbows and fists. He also has a black belt in jiu-jitsu. UFC commentator Joe Rogan summed up the 33-year-old Brazilian perfectly, calling his fight game a "ballet of violence."
"He's got a tough night on his hands," English middleweight Michael Bisping said of Cote.
"He's definitely got the punching power, if he lands that shot, who knows, he could drop him. But certainly if I was a gambling man, I'd be putting my money on Anderson Silva to take him out. I wish all the best to Patrick Cote but I think Anderson's definitely going to take it - without too much difficulty to be honest."
Still Serra, who delivered on his promise to shock the world by dethroning 9-1 favourite Georges St. Pierre at UFC 69 in April 2007, sees a chance for Cote.
"First of all nobody's unbeatable in this game," Serra told the Canadian Press. "And I think Cote has a way bigger shot than people are giving him credit him for. . . . Styles makes fights and Patrick's proved to have a solid chin, heavy hands and he's very technical in there with the striking.
"In other words, he's going to come in there with some strategy and I definitely can see him making the upset there."
Cote, who makes his home in Montreal, also dismisses the bookmakers.
"I don't care about the odds," he said. "It's just more interesting for my friends and everybody who puts money on me, they will be a lot richer after this fight."
Serra got to know Cote when they both competed on Season 4 of "The Ultimate Fighter." Serra won the welterweight portion of the reality TV show, earning the title shot against Montreal's St. Pierre. Cote was submitted by Travis Lutter in the middleweight final.
"I lived with him for six weeks (during taping of the show) and mentally you're not going to find a tougher guy than Patrick Cote," said Serra, who lost his title to St. Pierre at UFC 83 in April.
Cote (14-4) himself has used the Serra analogy, saying of Silva "I will Matt Serra him."
The 28-year-old former corporal with the Canadian Armed Forces made his UFC debut in October 2004, when he was suddenly elevated to the UFC 50 main event against Tito (The Huntington Beach Bad Boy) Ortiz. It wasn't even Cote's weight class.
Still he took the fight.
An Ortiz fan at the time, he even had the former UFC light-heavyweight champion on his computer screensaver. Cote lost a unanimous decision but lasted 15 minutes with Ortiz and even managed to rock him early on (a photo of which he subsequently used to replace his old Ortiz screensaver).
Cote went on to lose his next three fights in the UFC, although each one had a story. He was leading Winnipeg's Joe Doerksen at UFC 52 in April 2005 when he made a mistake and was submitted. Four months later, he lost a split decision to Chris (The Crippler) Leben in a fight that Cote still thinks he won.
Then there was the November 2006 Lutter loss which cost Cote a shot at Silva's title. Lutter, who took Cote down and used his jiu-jitsu skills to submit him with ease, subsequently lost to Silva in a fight deemed a non-title bout after Lutter failed to make weight.
The Canadian started splitting training between Montreal and Boston, where he began to work with Mark DellaGrotte. The move paid immediate dividends.
Cote, who also trains with Fabio Holanda in Montreal, faced a must-win fight against Scott Smith at UFC 67 in February 2007 and scored a unanimous decision in a workmanlike effort that drew boos from the Las Vegas crowd. "That fight sucked," UFC president Dana White said.
Still, Cote was on the board.
And he turned things around further with back-to-back knockouts of Kendall Grove in August 2007 and Drew McFedries last January.
He earned the title shot by winning a decision over jiu-jitsu ace Ricardo Almeida at UFC 86 in July.
Cote says he is confident against all-comers now.
"I knocked strikers out and I beat a grappler," he said during a publicity stop in Toronto on Tuesday.
Silva was supposed to meet Yushin Okami first but the Japanese fighter broke his hand and the Cote fight was moved up.
While the bookies may see a mismatch, White says Silva saw the possibility of a good contest.
"The night Cote was fighting Almeida, Anderson Silva was there and he was going `God I hope Cote wins this fight. God I hope Cote wins this fight,"' White recalled. "He wants to fight Cote because he says `This kid is not going to shoot, he's not going to try to take me down. He's going to stand and go toe to toe with me.'
"Cote's got a good chin and he's got knockout power," White added. "It's an interesting fight."