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The Unsupportable Opinion: Thales Leites Has a Good Chance at UFC 97

(He owns at least one working bicep.  That’s a good sign, right?)

Let me be real, son.  Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites is, on paper, the most one-sided UFC title fight since Georges St. Pierre vs. Matt Serra I.  And yes, we know how that one turned out, but there’s still no plausible reason to believe that the Thales Leites we’ve seen in the Octagon could beat even the uninterested Anderson Silva we saw against Patrick Cote…or is there?

In the interest of trying to make UFC 97’s main event seem a little more competitive than the oddsmakers think it is, here’s our best attempt at making the very difficult case for Thales Leites.

1. Aside From His UFC Debut, He’s Never Lost an MMA Bout
Losing your Octagon debut is almost a rite of passage for young fighters, like getting screwed by a sponsor or doing something so cool it makes Joe Silva leap out of his chair.  Leites lost his first UFC bout via decision to the very credible Martin Kampmann in 2006.  Since then, dude’s been hanging nothing but W’s.  Okay, his win over Nate Marquardt was highly suspect, but his quick submission over Drew McFedries wasn’t. (Sidenote: how did he go from a win over Marquardt to a bout with McFedries, anyway?  Not exactly a step up in competition there.)

2. He Can Take a Shot
Perhaps the only positive for Leites in the split decision win over Marquardt, besides the win bonus, was that he put to rest any questions about his chin.  Marquardt kneed him in the face illegally at one point, landed some heavy shots throughout, and still Leites kept coming.  That’s important against Silva, because unless you win via flying heelhook in the opening seconds, he’s going to hit you in the face really hard with something sooner or later.  Leites has never been knocked out, so maybe he’s the man to stand up to Silva’s power.

3. He Has Nothing to Lose
The good thing about being such a heavy underdog is the complete lack of pressure.  Should Leites manage to go the distance with Silva, that would be considered an accomplishment for him.  That’s how little anyone expects of him.

4. His Opponent May Not Be 100% Focused on Him
In some dark corner of Anderson Silva’s mind, this fight is not about Leites at all.  It’s about sticking it to all the people who blasted him after the Patrick Cote debacle.  He’s got to be at least partially motivated by proving his dominance all over again and erasing that bizarre night from people’s memories.  That means he may not really be thinking about Leites, or worse yet, might get careless in his quest to end things in devastating fashion and end up getting caught.  Between the lingering Cote hangover, his designs on boxing Roy Jones Jr., and the constant jabbering about other potential opponents, there’s a good chance he might be overlooking to very overlookable Leites.

5. It Would Totally Screw the UFC If Leites Became Champ
For some reason, whenever the UFC lays out future plans for fighters that are too specific, or makes fights with the hope that a specific fighter will win, something goes wrong (Cro Cop/Gonzaga, anyone?).  To their credit, they’ve learned from that and have mostly veered away from that philosophy.  But let’s not kid ourselves, no one in the UFC is excited about the prospect of Leites as the middleweight champ, with the exception of Demian Maia.  You think Anderson Silva can’t sell pay-per-views?  If Leites is champ even his relatives will decide to save the money and catch the highlights on the internet the next morning.  The fact that this fight has such a big potential downside for the UFC only increases the odds that their worst case scenario will come to fruition.

There now, anyone convinced?

Cagepotato Comments

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KneeToTheFace- April 17, 2009 at 10:11 am
Chonan was winning his fight with Silva on both takedowns and strikes before he pulled off the submission. The reason he had so much confidence to try that is because he knew that he would be able to neutralize Anderson's top strikes and stand up again.
Deadpanda- April 17, 2009 at 9:09 am
Very well put to gether defence of a dead man.
FEDORISAPUSSY- April 17, 2009 at 8:17 am
Thales by sub round 2
Danal White- April 17, 2009 at 6:40 am
>r doing something so cool it makes Joe Silva leap out of his chair.

Yes, when Silva does it its ok,... when other douchebags do it, its not only frowned upon, its ridiculed.

Do you stop at the balls or do you swallow the whole package?
Ruger- April 17, 2009 at 6:07 am
Why does Dan Quinn go by Caps lock hal...
BuckWild- April 17, 2009 at 5:52 am
I think its a win win either way the fight goes.

If Silva gets beat, then they could have GSP fight Leites for the title. I think GSP would win that fight. Then Silva would take a fight or two to build back up to a shitle tot with GSP. Make him earn his title back.


Silva beats Leites and later fights GSP.


Silva loses and moves onto LHW and reeks havoc in that division ! Like someone else was saying. Silva vs any of the top LHW's would be awesome!
lower case pete- April 17, 2009 at 5:45 am
hey hal you're on, first one to take it to the ground is a pussy
just a fight fan- April 17, 2009 at 5:09 am
I LOVE the "Lutter mounted him" argument for how beatable Silva is. Because if we have learned anything over the years about bjj, its that there is no way to ever win a fight if you are on the bottom.
Anonymous- April 17, 2009 at 4:13 am
just some dong- April 17, 2009 at 12:53 am
just put $20 on rua - liddell is washed up, it's a lock!

also put $30 on cantwell cuz he's one mean sumbitch.

let it ride...
Kevin- April 16, 2009 at 11:51 pm
Leitis has a helluva chance. Silva struggles with wrestlers who know jui-jitsu. Luter would have finished him if he ever trained cardio. Otherwise, the only guys to beat him were crazy Japanese guys who didn't give a fuck about his credentials. They took him down and submitted him.
johnnymack- April 16, 2009 at 11:46 pm made me squirt mt. dew out of my nose with your out of left field "Dukakis 1988 " remark. Now ....when are people going to stop giving good fighters god like status? Silva is good but so was Hughes, Liddel, Rua, and several other champs that were ranked as top fighters. Silva is in no way unbeatable , hell Lutter mounted him and very well may have finished the fight with strikes if he hadn't of gone for that sloppy armbar. There is alot of hype that surrounds any good fighter...learn to see past it.
Anonymous- April 16, 2009 at 11:23 pm
leites might have a good chin but isnt cris leben known for his brick head and he still got owned? he may not get knocked the fuck out but the ref def would stop the fight if it didnt happen
Alex- April 16, 2009 at 10:50 pm
Interesting. I left an articulate. genuine and complimentary post for this thread. I wonder why it didn't make it through?

I work in media and have a blog, I don't censor comments.
Jay Smith- April 16, 2009 at 10:49 pm
Anderson Silva by octogon entrance.
Patrick- April 16, 2009 at 10:05 pm
Dukakis 1988!
Alfanzo- April 16, 2009 at 9:54 pm
band23- April 16, 2009 at 9:38 pm
this is a valid point. who knows what other jedi mind fuck he can use.
band23- April 16, 2009 at 9:35 pm
i think there are a few keyboard warriors that post here that have a better shot at beating silva than leites.
Dubya- April 16, 2009 at 9:35 pm
My apologies to everyone for choosing to comment on the article over typing macho bullshit from the safety of the computer...

...but I gotta say, so the F what if Leites wins? (and yes, the more it's said, the better his odds! why not?)

Why do people want to see a one-sided mauling? Doesn't anyone want to see Silva TRULY tested? Even if Leites pulls a Hughes/Gracie domination over Silva (got $1000 saying he does!), it won't budge their monopoly.. Stop worrying about the UFC, they'll be fine. In fact, a beltless Anderson Silva would shake that division up BIG TIME!

And why would anyone on a CagePotato forum give a shit if a Leites victory is bad for the UFC on the business end? The UFC doesn't care about your finances past your ability to buy the PPVs, and they're billionaires with 90% of the world's best fighters. Remember, they're doing fine w/o Fedor.

BUTT.... if that happens, er, I mean, WHEN it happens (THALES! THALES!), and Silva loses the belt (100% guarantee!), guess what... Anderson Silva will probably take permanent residence @ LHW. Wait a minute... Anderson vs. any UFC LHW Superstar would be bigger than ANY middleweight title defense...

Anderson vs...
- Rampage
- Rashad
- Forrest
- Houston Alexander!

People rooting for Anderson to have another one-sided victory prefer to miss out on the supposed greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the world to truly be tested. But the thing is, what good is being the best pound-for-pound fighter if you're the king of what seems to be the shallowest talent pool in the UFC? Anderson's got a similar dilemma as Fedor.. He's the best fighter in the world and often doesn't face the best in the world... he gets a good guy in the division that the promotion running the show gives him. Hong-Man, Leites, whatever...

I wanna see a war, not a one sided dismemberment. Shit, if we wanna see that so bad, Anderson doesn't even need to fight in the UFC... he can fight substandard guys ANYWHERE!!! I'm looking forward to this fight, cuz hey, anything can happen in a fight, and I'd like to see how Anderson Silva the black belt does when a more decorated black belt has him on the ground.. But you know what, I take it all back... I wanna see Anderson win... cuz I'd really like to see him up against Meia... That would be a great middleweight title fight!

Anonymous- April 16, 2009 at 9:28 pm
mount =/= win
PurplePickle- April 16, 2009 at 9:12 pm
Everytime Silva fights, this guy or that guy has the right style or conditioning to beat him. Then Silva wins convincingly. I like the guy but I find myself rooting against him everytime just to see if he can be beaten (in the UFC). Then I watch old Pride DVDs and he looks like half the fighter he is now. Right now I think I would settle for just having someone go to war with him (for more than two rounds) even if they can't beat him.
MKO- April 16, 2009 at 9:00 pm
Are you really considering betting against a man who won his last fight by mental ligament tear?
Anonymous- April 16, 2009 at 8:59 pm
lol T-Rex!

"Fuck, if I was Anderson Silva. I'd let Travis Lutter mount me too.
Wait. That doesn't sound right." April 16, 2009 at 8:30 pm
guys im so high right now, but i gotta say i laughed my ASS off to the above grammar/spelling comments. i almost felt like puking, twas just epic.