UFC 163 in Brazil will see a 185-pound matchup between the exciting Tom Watson and the seasoned veteran Thales Leites. This looks to be a fun bout, and I am glad to see Leites get a second chance in the UFC. Both fighters are looking to show that they belong at the top level in MMA competition. Let’s study Watson first.
Out of 21 professional fights, this will be Watson’s second fight outside of England. Watson showed us a great performance in his last UFC fight against Stanislav Nedkov. He was able to finish Nedkov off with a brutal combination of knees and punches, and showed true grit. Previous to that he lost a hard fought split decision to the tough Brad Tavares. Watson is an exciting and aggressive fighter, favoring stand-up exchanges of all sorts, and he sports a mean high-kick as well. He will be looking for his second Octagon victory in this bout, and would love to show the world another “highlight reel” caliber finish to showcase his striking prowess. He would also like to add yet another “fight of the night” and/or “knockout of the night” award to his statistics. He sports a ridiculous 12 of these awards in various promotions so far.
Leites comes from the opposite end of the spectrum of sorts. It is difficult to find a Leites fan. His striking is lacking. His penchant for boring fights makes him difficult to market. In his first UFC stint he inexplicably received a title shot by beating Drew McFedries. His fight with then champ Anderson Silva was regarded as one of the worst championship matchups in UFC history. On the upside, Leites has a first degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and he utilizes it very well. He has 13 submission victories on his record, one of them being a submission over the Brazilian legend Jose “Pele” Landi-Jons, arguably the highlight of his career.
My prediction: I think that this is a match put together by the UFC that has one purpose – to cater to the Brazilian fans. They’d like to see their countrymen succeed, and I believe that Leites/Watson will be no exception. Watson lacks the submission defense to take on such a high-level grappler in Leites, and so I see a swift submission victory happening early in this fight. I’ve got Leites via arm-triangle choke in the middle of round two – although I believe that the UFC will conveniently look over this loss and then in turn promote Watson the next card in England.