Ben Fowlkes
Thursday October 23rd, 2008

Patrick Cote is a man who knows his sports clichés. He's already vowed to "shock the world" when he takes on middleweight champion Anderson Silva at UFC 90 this Saturday. He's also pointed out that Silva has lost before (three times, not counting his DQ loss to Yushin Okami) and sees it as proof that the "Spider" is not as invincible as everyone may believe.

This is the same kind of logic employed by people who regularly play the lottery: "Somebody has to win, so why not me?" It's as good a reason as any for dropping a few bucks on a game of random chance. When it comes to getting in the Octagon with the UFC's most dominant champion, however, you'd like to have more to go on.

It's not that Cote has no chance on Saturday night. In the world of four-ounce gloves there are no sure things, especially when you hit as hard as Cote.

But the fact that he's even challenging for the title is more of a testament to Silva's reign of terror over the division than it is to Cote's rise through the ranks. He is the No. 1 contender only by process of elimination. To get this title shot, he won a lackluster split-decision over Ricardo Almeida (who wasn't exactly at the top of the 185-pound food chain himself) at UFC 86.

So now Cote gets a chance to etch his name into the record books. Sure, why not? There's no more obvious choice, and you don't exactly hear many middleweights clamoring for their chance to have Silva relocate their facial features. That's the trouble with Silva, as much as there is one. He's nothing less than an artist when he's in action, but he's also a monster that demands to be fed regularly. And the UFC is running out of warm bodies to throw in the cage with him.

The UFC pulled a rabbit out of its hat by replacing the injured Diego Sanchez with Josh Kosheck to take on Thiago Alves. The fight is still just as competitive and has the same potential impact on the division, which is hard to manage when you change opponents two weeks out.

This should make for an extremely close fight, but that doesn't mean Koscheck should continue to play it safe and hope to ride to a decision. If he's going to have a future at the top of the welterweight class he needs to show he can do more than take people down and stay active enough to avoid a stand-up. In other words, he needs to become something he's never been: a finisher.

As for Alves, he needs to make weight. He needs it as badly as Gina Carano did. The only difference is people aren't going to be quite so titillated if he has to strip naked to do it.

With so many wrestlers rounding out the undercard of UFC 90, be prepared to sit through a few decisions. Sean Sherk and Tyson Griffin are both known for relying on takedowns and ground control and both frequently go the distance. Gray Maynard is the same, and while he's facing someone a little more dynamic in Rich Clementi, "The Bully" will probably still be able to shove him into the space between the cage and mat for three rounds, and that's always thrilling.

To make up for those likely decision endings, we've got what should be a very quick finish for Fabricio Werdum against Junior Dos Santos. This is little more than busy work for Werdum, who is biding his time while he waits for the UFC's heavyweight "tournament" to play out. It shouldn't take him long to finish off Dos Santos, but at least he'll get a workout and paycheck for his trouble.

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