Canadian fighters disappointed at UFC 148: Cote, Menjivar and Alessio all lose
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - It was a sour night for all three Canadian fighters at UFC 148.
Former UFC middleweight title contender Patrick Cote likely had the roughest go Saturday as he suffered a unanimous decision loss to action movie star Cung Le in his first bout since getting cut by the UFC in October 2010.
"I thought it was tricky. I was about to push the pace but he had a lot better footwork than I was expecting," said a disappointed Cote, who had won his previous four fights to get back into the organization where he made his debut against Tito Ortiz at UFC 50 in 2004.
The 32-year-old Cote — who just four years ago fought for the middleweight strap against Anderson Silva, whose title fight against Chael Sonnen at the MGM Grand Garden Arena became arguably the biggest fight in UFC history — could never find his rhythm against the 40-year-old from Saigon, South Vietnam (now Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam).
It wasn't a lack of effort from the Montreal native though, as both he and Le attempted several highlight reel strikes. But Cote (18-8) never could land the famous right hand he's known for against Le (8-2), who won 30-27 on all three scorecards.
The former Strikeforce middleweight champion, a well-chronicled sanshou expert, mixed in spinning wheel kicks, spinning back fists and both body and heads kicks that took Cote out of his game plan in both the second and third rounds.
Cote landed a nice combination in the second that opened a cut over Le's eye, but moments later he also suffered a blow that drew blood.
Le's control with his kicks over the final two rounds proved a perfect answer to The Predator's controlled striking
"I feel great. A little tired," said Le. "I was going to do a backflip, but I didn't have any energy. He's got such a hard head — I hurt my foot on it. I fought my heart out."
Despite his age, Le said the win has energized him to create new goals in MMA before he takes on movie roles fulltime.
"One goal reached, and another goal to come," he said. "I'm going to go back to the drawing board. I'm an adrenaline junkie and I'm not sure I can give it up yet. To all the 40-year-olds, I did it for you guys."
The other two Canadians on the card didn't fare much better as both bantamweight Ivan Menjivar and lightweight John Alessio lost by unanimous decisions.
The 30-year-old Menjivar (24-9)—who was originally supposed to face Renan Barao, before the Brazilian star was asked to fill in for injured featherweight champion Dominick Cruz in a fight against Urijah Faber — had hoped a win over highly touted American Mike (The Hulk) Easton (13-1) would help him climb the ladder into title contention.
Instead, a striking-fest that left the crowd less than enthused, snapped his three-fight win streak and gave him his first setback in the UFC since a loss to Matt Serra at UFC 48 in June 2004.
"I realized I didn't put much pressure," Menjivar said. "The judges gave it to him because he looked more aggressive even though he didn't connect. I was too calm."
The bout was even early as Easton worked with punches, while Menjivar focused on kicks.
The Montreal native kept up with the kicks in the second round as he threw spinning back kicks and high kicks, but Easton answered back with an assortment of body punches, that might not have been very damaging swayed two of the judges to give him the round.
Both fighters went for the knockout in the final frame.
Easton connected at a higher rate and created some scorecard success with body punches and leg kicks. Menjivar avoided some strong ground and pound towards the end of the round, but couldn't connect on any significant strikes the rest of the way.
"It feels good. I'm very happy for the win," said Easton, who has won eight straight matches. "Ivan is an incredible fighter. Usually when I throw my power it offsets everything and I think my strategy helped me come away with the win tonight."
Alessio once again couldn't gain his first victory in the UFC when Shane Roller rode out the second and third rounds to secure the decision in the first FX-broadcast bout of the night.
Alessio (34-16), who turned 33 on Thursday, was looking for a big birthday gift in his 50th pro fight — instead the Duncan, B.C. native received yet another disappointment inside the octagon.
"Let's scrap already. Hold somebody done all night, that's (expletive)," said a frustrated Alessio, who fell to 0-5 in four different stints in the UFC.
Indeed Roller (11-6), a former All-American wrestler from Oklahoma State, controlled Alessio with a strong ground game in the second and third rounds aggravating Alessio who felt referee Josh Rosenthal should have stood them up and not let Roller ride the match out.
Alessio — who had spent 21 fights and 69 months outside the UFC, prior to his narrow decision loss to fellow Canadian Mark Bocek at UFC 145 in April — definitely looked poise to pick up his first UFC victory when he connected with some heavy blows late in the first round.
Roller controlled things early, but Alessio hammered away with some left hooks before dropping Roller to the canvas with a big right hand and a jab in the final 10 seconds. He pounded away but couldn't get the finish, which in the end would prove pivotal.
Roller mounted Alessio early in the second round and secured a guillotine. While he couldn't score the submission, he controlled the round. He repeated the strategy in the third round as the crowd let out a chorus of boos.
Alessio got out of his guard with 50 seconds left and immediately swung for the knockout, but as the clock ran out, the Canadian threw his hands in disgust and screamed in Roller's direction.
"I approach every fight as a must-win," said Roller, who was fighting for his job as he had lost three bouts in a row. "It was a tough fight. I had to grind it out with him.
"Wrestling was the game plan, but I have been working on my standup. He has good standup, but you know that's part of MMA. It's not a boxing match. He's heavy-handed and a pretty big guy, and I felt his hands had good power."