Patrick (The Predator) Cote's road back to the UFC has taken him to Brazil this week.
"In Manaus, hot and humid as hell!! All good," he tweeted upon arrival.
The 32-year-old middleweight from Montreal takes on Brazilian Gustavo (Ximu) Machado (22-8-1) on an Amazon Forest Combat card that includes fellow former UFCers Thales Leites, Matt Horwich, Dave Menne, Josh Burkman, Murilo Bustamante, Ronys Torres and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou.
"It's a sick card," said Cote, noting the show could be seen by more than 30 million on Brazilian TV.
For Cote (16-7), it's another step back to the UFC. The former Canadian soldier has won three straight since a three-fight losing string cost him his job in the UFC.
Asked if a fourth consecutive victory will get him back, Cote replied: "To be honest with you, every time I win a fight, I feel that it's going to be enough to get back in the UFC.
"But the only power I have is to win fights and put more pressure on the UFC. There's a lot of people who asked the UFC to bring me back in the big show but at the end of the day this is not my decision. ... I'm just putting some wins together. I know the UFC likes me and I know that I'm a UFC-level fighter still."
The time is right for Cote. The UFC has three shows planned for Canada this year, starting with Calgary in July, Toronto in September and Montreal in November.
Cote is also never out of the UFC's eye. While the last of his 11 UFC fights was in October 2010, he still does French-language TV commentary on their cards.
He also serves as an MMA and boxing analyst for TVA Sports in Quebec, with his own show planned for May.
While Cote believes he has three to five years of fighting still ahead of him, he is conscious of the need to build a post-fight career.
Cote's recent losing streak in the Octagon was very much injury related.
He blew out his knee against middleweight champion Anderson Silva and was forced to bow out midway through UFC 90 in October 2008. That necessitated two knee surgeries and kept him out until May 2010 when Alan (The Talent) Belcher submitted him in the second round.
"It was going pretty well until he dropped me on my head," Cote said dryly.
It was an illegal move in some eyes but the fight continued and a dazed Cote was put away.
Cote was cut after a decision loss to (Filthy) Tom Lawlor at UFC 121 in a fight that saw him outwrestled.
"A pretty bad fight," he said. "I take the blame. I had a back injury but I don't make excuses. I know that wasn't a good fight.
Since then, he says he has turned up his training.
"Right now I'm doing what I should have done a couple of years ago. I'm doing a lot of wrestling, a lot of jiu-jitsu. On my feet, I'm not scared of anybody in the world at 185 pounds, I'm really confident about my striking.
"I was wrestling before, but not like right now ... I'm really, really upgrading my wrestling."
Cote's new wrestling coach in former Olympian David Zilberman.
The 36-year-old Machado has fought professionally since 2000. His overall fight resume includes a win over Nate Quarry and losses to Demian Maia, Brad Blackburn, Mike Pyle, Benji Radach, Ricardo Arona and Leites.
"He's fought some pretty big names," said Cote. "He's only had one loss in his last 11 fights — four wins in a row. He's a legit black belt, pretty good on the ground. He's a black belt under Gracie Barra.
"He's not a big 185 (pounder) but he looks pretty strong. He's a BJJ guy but he likes to strike. He thinks he's a striker, so that's good. It's going to be interesting."
Interesting because Cote's striking is his strength.
Cote's career has been carved out of perseverance.
He was tossed to the wolves in his UFC debut when, on short notice, he was moved up a weight class to face light-heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz at UFC 50 in October 2004.
Cote lost a decision but staggered the champ at one point and earned a big IOU from the UFC for stepping in for an injured fighter. He went on lose his next three UFC fights before reeling off four wins to earn his title shot against Silva.
It's Cote's first visit to Brazil and while he says it's all business — "I'm going there to fight, it's nothing different" — he's going to spend a few days in Rio de Janeiro when his work is done.
His one concern was the weather in Manaus — "fricking hot," in his words. The forecast for Saturday is a humid 29 degrees, for example. But training partner and coach Fabio Holanda is Brazilian and Cote says is prepared him for whatever awaits him.