After a 14-year fighting career, Patrick Cote has decided to walk away from the sport of mixed martial arts.
Cote, who’s widely considered a pioneer in Canadian MMA, took his gloves off and placed them in the center of the Octagon last Saturday following his welterweight bout with Thiago Alves at UFC 212. While Cote is 37 years old and has fought for the UFC as early as UFC 50, the retirement ritual of leaving the gloves in the cage surprised many observers, as Cote kept the decision a secret — even from his wife.
“I didn't want to make a big story about it,” Cote told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “I wanted to focus on the fight and I wanted people to watch the fight just because it was another fight, even my wife didn't know, and I did that on purpose because I wanted to do that for myself.
“That was the first fight I was very selfish about. I gave 15 years of my life for this sport and only Fabio, my head coach, knew and that’s it. My other two cornermen didn't know, and I did that on purpose because I didn’t want to make interviews before for my last fight and make it a big deal. I wanted to go there and just fight like it was another fight. For me, I just wanted to live the moment alone, just live the moment by myself, and I knew that it was going to be my last walk in, my last entrance song, my last introduction by Bruce Buffer, and I have no regrets about it. I did that for myself and it’s good, man.”
Despite having a good showing against the Brazilian, Cote lost a unanimous decision to Alves that night in Buffalo. The Canadian said that his decision to retire had nothing to do with the loss, as he had made the decision months before the fight. A couple injuries sustained during training camp, as well as a few other factors, signaled to the former middleweight title challenger that it was time to hang up the gloves.
“My decision was made before [the fight],” Cote explained. “I didn’t make the decision based on emotion about the loss. I knew two months before that it would be my last fight because I’m tired of doing that for 15 years. I was a little bit tired, and I always said that if I wake up one day and I don't want to go to the gym anymore, or it’s hard for me to go to the gym and train for a fight, then I will stop because it’s not worth it. And it did happen to me, maybe a couple of times during that training camp, so that was a wake-up call for me.”
Cote walks away from MMA with a professional record of 23-11 that include victories over many notable opponents such as Kendall Grove, Ricardo Almeida, Joe Riggs, Josh Burkman, Ben Saunders, Alessio Sakara and several others. But Cote’s favorite career moments don't necessarily involve winning.
“I have so many moments in that cage,” Cote said. “My first fight in the UFC, I don't think it can get any better than that. It was my first fight in the UFC, main event against Tito Ortiz, the poster boy. Even after 13 years in that business, they’re still taking about it when they present me, so it’s pretty crazy. And of course, my title fight, that’s the dream of every fighter, to fight for the UFC title, and this is something that I'm very proud. No one will ever be able to take that away from me. I had a nice run and I'm really happy about my career, but it’s time to pass to another thing.”
Although retiring from MMA competition, Cote will remain involved in the sport with his work as an analyst for Réseau Des Sports, a French-Canadian sports channel, and his French color commentator position with the UFC, among other things.
“I’m working a lot in media on RDS and on the radio,” Cote said. “I have a couple other television projects on the table, a real state company, so I’m working a lot on that too, and working with the Canadian army about putting together a program about teaching close-quarter combat. And I’m also working for the Canadian Olympic organization to help the new athletes grow, so I’m a pretty busy guy and it’s been like that for a couple of years.
“Looking back, I have a hard time believing that I was able to train full-time and fight at this level. So now I get to focus my time and energy to all those projects.”