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UFC 163’s Leites: Stand-Up Skills May “Surprise” People

Kelsey Mowatt

Thales Leites

Thales Leites will step into the Octagon for the first time since 2009 at UFC 163, and although some fans still haven’t gotten over the role he played in the horrifically bad UFC 97 main event, the talented 32 year-old has worked his way back to the UFC. Since exiting from the promotion, Leites has gone 6-1, and will it be interesting to see how he performs against the dangerous Tom Watson this Saturday.

The Nova Uniao fighter is widely respected for his ground game, thanks to the fact he’s a BJJ black belt and his record is littered with submission wins. While speaking to MMA recently, however, Leites relayed that his striking could catch fans and pundits off guard too.

“Several factors will define this fight: standup exchanges, in which I might surprise a lot of people, and wrestling, where we’ll decide if the fight will remain on the feet or go to the ground,” he said.

“We should also consider physical and mental preparation. I am confident in my victory. I don’t feel this fight will go to the judges. It will end by KO or submission.”

Considering Watson has gone 4-1 in his last five fights, and is coming off an impressive stoppage win over Stanislav Nedkov, Leites would make a significant statement if he can take out the rugged middleweight. In fact, it would be the perfect way to announce “I’m back.”

UFC 163 will be hosted by the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro. Stay tuned to MMA for all your UFC news and coverage.

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