"It's probably the biggest fight of my life, of my career," Cote said. "The UFC made a pretty clear message with all the cuts they made a month ago. They said they have to cut more fighters in the future, so the message is pretty clear that when you step into the octagon, you have to deliver it and give a good show. It's nothing different for me. I have to go there, and I have to perform."
Cote has certainly found himself in this position before. He's fought sporadically for the company since 2004, but he's endured several returns to the regional level along the way. He earned his way back to the UFC this past summer but was promptly handed a decision loss by Cung Le. In an effort to reverse his octagon fortunes, Cote decided to drop from middleweight to 170 pounds.
"With all the knowledge of nutrition and cutting weight, those guys at 185 are pretty big dudes now," Cote said. "They walk around at 225, 230 pounds. Guys like Yushin Okami, Chael Sonnen, even Alessio Sakara, they're pretty big guys.
"A couple of years ago, I was an average middleweight, but now I was a small one."
In his first assignment at 170 pounds, Cote draws Strikeforce import Bobby Voelker (24-8 MMA, 0-0 UFC), a 33-year-old fighter making his UFC debut. Cote boasts big-show experience over his lesser-known foe, but he's certainly not taking anything for granted.
"The thing is, that's going to be my biggest mistake if I approach this fight by thinking like that," Cote told MMAjunkie.com (UFC blog for UFC news, UFC rumors, fighter interviews and event previews/recaps
). "This guy is a gamer. He's going to come in his first fight in the UFC, and he has everything to win.
"He's very aggressive. He's going forward. He's able to punch, and he always comes back in his fights, even if he was in big trouble. He's always able to come back and win the fight. He had a good left hook, and he's pretty decent on his feet, too. But like I said, he's going to come very hungry. This is his chance, and that's why I trained very, very hard."
Also 33 years old, this could very well be Cote's last chance in the UFC. His fan-friendly style makes him a crowd-pleaser, and his role as a French-language commentator makes him extended part of the Zuffa family. Still, as the controversial release of Jon Fitch stands testament, wins are at an all-time premium.
For that reason alone, Cote believes Saturday's fight is the most important of his career. There is no future, only now.
"This is going to put me on the map at 170," Cote said. "It's my first fight at 170. You have to take one fight at a time. Bobby Voelker is going to be the first one."