When we last left our heroes..it's kind of crazy to think that despite his limitations, Cote is still in the UFC, long after his UFC 50 debut back in 2004. The funny thing is that not much has changed. Cote went into that bout a hilarious underdog. It was the "long anticipated" rematch between Ortiz and Guy Mezger, and not much was known about Cote; especially before the days of youtube when fighter footage was readily accessible.
I don't know that Cote made much of an impression. He landed one really good punch, and then nothing, but credit where credit is due. Cote represents that tiny faction of veterans who earn name reputation despite their low profiles. He'll always be the Canadian kid who didn't look miserable against a prime Tito Ortiz (who has what is easily the worst wikipedia profile pic at the top).
After Cote was sent packing, he's quietly amassed a decent record at 2-1 since his 2012 return. His loss kind of stands outs because it's still hard to unpack Cung Le's MMA career, but he's remained steadfast in his adequacy.
As for Noke, he's pretty much a carbon copy of Cote, minus the Quebec. Noke has had a tough run of late at 1-2 in his last 3. His losses were to Ed Herman and Andrew Craig, but he's fresh off a win over Charlie Brenneman.
It's hard to say where these guys go from here; these guys will never be champions, but that spot always goes to the very rare person who earns it through a unique confluence of factors. Unless you're name is Matt Serra, of course (just kidding...but not really).
What both men can do: For some reason people always lump Cote's fight with Silva into the category of "bad/bizarre Anderson Silva performances", which to me tells me they either forgot the fight, or didn't watch it. Silva put in a masterful performance. He landed vicious strikes before Cote blew out his knee, including a brutal head kick, a picture perfect straight left. The problem is that Cote has an all world chin.
Although it was only good in spots, people seem to forget his exchanges with Chris Leben as well: he ate Leben's left all day in their close quarter exchanges, and never flinched. For what it's worth, Cote in his prime took a punch better than pretty much anyone I've seen, and I'd have no problem putting him in the same category that Nog, Hunt, and others belong to.
Anyway, Cote is more than a good chin. He puts together good combinations with a right hand that possesses solid power. He's your token veteran who happens to be the sum of his parts. You're not gonna break him. You can only beat him.
Noke, despite the unusual submission loss blemish to Herman, has always been an adept grappler. His movement is not swift, but what he lacks in agility, he makes up for in technique/timing. He's a clinical grappler who makes few mistakes, but has the offensive gear required to pull off some fairly high level stuff on the ground. His striking is fairly rote, but he's a clean boxer, and isn't easily intimidated.
What both men can't do: Both guys are fairly "meat and potatoes", as the expression goes. Noke didn't even fight in 2013, and he only had two fights in 2012. The year before that, he only had two fights as well. I don't know that "ring rust" is really a factor (I'd be interested in seeing how this breaks down since it just feels like typical sports buzzword talk), but a veteran like Noke could have used more fights.
As for Cote, I favor him in this fight because while his takedown defense isn't great, I suspect Noke will engage him enough on the feet give him opportunities to land.
It's weird to think Cote actually earned himself a title shot at 185. But he did, and I think he'll continue to be an overachiever in the UFC.
Prediction: Patrick Cote by Decision.