Thales Leites’ resurgent return to the UFC hit a wall last summer when he suffered a five-round decision loss to Michael Bisping at UFC Fight Night 72. That defeat halted an eight-fight winning streak, and took Leites off the path towards a second shot at the UFC Middleweight Championship.
Leites returns next month at UFC Fight Night 83 in London, taking on Gegard Mousasi in an attempt to get himself back on track. In an interview this week with Portal do Vale Tudo in Brazil, Leites explained what he felt went wrong in the Bisping fight, and says he won’t make the same mistake against Mousasi.
“Mousasi is a tough guy. He is calm, collected, heavy-handed and has been fighting for years,” Leites said (translated by Lucas Rezende at BloodyElbow.com). Against Bisping, my intention was to strike all the time and knock him out. When I touched him, I could tell he was hurt, so I started head hunting, but he has very good footwork and didn’t let me pull the trigger.
“He touched me more, I’m sure, but I was more effective. In order not to leave the judges guessing, I should have gone for a takedown every round at least once. That was my mistake, I should have believed more in my jiu-jitsu.”
Penick’s Analysis: Leites absolutely got away from what he’d been doing best in that Bisping fight, and he needs to rebound in a big way against Mousasi if he’s going to have any hope of fighting for the title again. He’d looked quite good in his previous several UFC bouts, so if he can beat Mousasi and put another run together, this is a division in which he could get that shot.
[Photo (c) Steven Flynn via USA Today Sports]
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