Thales Leites: The "Other Guy" in Saturday's UFC 97 Main Event
On Saturday night, UFC Middleweight champion Anderson Silva looks to make history within the organization at UFC 97 “Redemption.”
Currently tied with John Fitch and Royce Gracie for the most consecutive UFC wins with eight, Silva would stand alone with a win on Saturday. “The Spider” is also one title defense away from tying Matt Hughes and Tito Ortiz for the most in the history of the organization with five consecutively.
An aspect of Silva’s eight UFC wins is that none of them have gone past the midway point of the fight, with only Patrick Cote lasting until the third round. The only thing more impressive than that is the names that have fallen victim to the Brazilian.
Dan Henderson, Nate Marquardt, Chris Leben, and Rich Franklin (twice) have all come up on the short end of their respective matches with Silva. His most recent fight (the win over Cote) was a less-than-stellar performance, but "The Spider" is unlikely to have two bad outings in a row.
At the end of this career, Silva will undoubtedly be talked about among the greats to ever step into the octagon, but he won’t be alone in the cage on Saturday.
The “other guy” in this fight is up-and-coming challenger Thales Leites.
Leites is riding a win streak of his own. After losing his UFC debut, the 27-year-old Brazilian has rolled off five consecutive victories, which includes wins over Nate Marquardt and Drew McFedries.
With an overall record of 14-1, Leites is known for taking fights to the ground. Nine of his wins come by way of submission.
And with only two victories by way of knockout, Leites is unlikely to stand and trade with Silva, who is believed by many to be one of the most dangerous strikers in the sport.
Instead, Leites will most likely attempt to take the fight to the mat and control the tempo from there with his exceptional Jiu-Jitsu skills. If he can do that, he has a shot to stop Silv, and take his career to the next level as UFC Middleweight Champion.
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