Thales Leites claimed a decision victory over Tom Watson tonight at UFC 163 in his return to the promotion after a lengthy absence, fighting with more urgency and aggression than we’ve seen from him in the past.
Leites fires off a flurry of punches to start this one off and then presses Watson up against the cage. From the clinch he’s able to work around to Watson’s back and then brings him down to the mat.
Only 30 seconds into the fight and Leites already got ‘Kong’ into his world, and he quickly locks on securely to his back and starts hunting for the rear-naked choke.
Watson defends and Leites offers up some good punches to the head instead. with two minutes to go Watson tries to reverse the position, but Leites isn’t having it and remains locked on as Watson moves to his knees.
Leites rains down some punches and Watson picks his moment to break free, momentarily getting on top before opting to stand up.
Watson’s sporting a cut above his left eye, but he’s looking for payback and immediately starts to unleash some offense now that he’s back on the feet. He chops in a couple of leg kicks and then follows up with a head kick. Good little spell for him, but the round comes to a close just as he’s getting going.
Onto round two and again Leites wades in with a combination and tries to initiate the clinch, but this time he’s not able to lock it up.
Leites surprisingly willing to engage on the feet with Watson and they start to trade before Leites suddenly swiftly moves in with a slick takedown and before long is taking the mount position.
Leites looking for a submission attempt, but he settles for taking ‘Kong’s’ back. They’re up against the cage now as Leites starts fishing for an armbar from his back. They are pressed awkwardly up against the cage as Leites continues to crank on it, but it’s just not happening and Watson escapes and casually walks away.
Back to the stand-up they go and Leites is looking a little tired, but still engaging. Watson steps up the tempo a little with a nice flurry of strikes.
Leites looks to clinch up and get Watson to the cage. He gets reversed though and then they break free. Watson lands some more hard shots. Leites bites down on his gumshield and starts to fire back in return. He stumbles forward and he bundles Watson to the mat in the process as the round comes to an end.
The final round is underway and Leites presses forward and lands some strikes, appearing to open up a cut on Watson’s head. The Brazilian clinches up against the cage, just as his corner had advised him to inbeteween rounds.
Leites looking for a trip-takedown, but ‘Kong’ stays upright and lands a couple of good strikes using the muay thai clinch.
They break apart, but Leites quickly closes the distance again and secures a takedown half-way through the round.
Watson tries to get back up, but he gets put straight back down and Leites is on the UK fighter’s back. Leites is in full mount and attempts to set up the arm triangle choke. Watson looks to gut it out in the final minute as Leites continues to apply pressure and manages to make it to the final bell.