In the second main card bout of UFC 163, Thales Leites (21-4, 6-3 UFC) stepped into the Octagon for the first time in four years and defeated British fighter Tom Watson (16-6, 1-2 UFC) by unanimous decision. Leites used heavy hands and a big grappling advantage to keep Watson at bay for most of the fight. Both fighters gassed late, but Leites was able to ground Watson and avoid trouble. All three judges had it 30-27 for the Brazilian.
Leites had previously challenged for the UFC middleweight title but was released back in 2009. He went 6-1 outside the organization, which earned him the invitation back. Watson was looking to build on a win over Stanislav Nedkov earlier this year, but was mostly overmatched in the bout.
What was the high point of the fight?
There wasn't really one moment that stood out. Maybe Leites trying to secure an armbar against the cage while he was all bent up in a weird position.
Where do they go from here?
Leites has now re-established himself in the UFC, and is a tough challenge for any young fighter. He still needs to work on his gas tank though. There is a wealth of new talent that he could face off with, but I'd like to see him fight Brad Tavares if he can get by Bubba McDaniel next month.
Watson could be a valuable fighter for the UFC when they run cards in the UK, but it's pretty clear that he's not a top-level talent. He's fun to watch though, and a matchup with a striker is probably the best way to get something out of him. I suggested Alessio Sakara or Trevor Smith in another article, but if they keep Chris Leben around for one more fight, he could be an option as well.
Watch now, later, or never?
Later. The fight wasn't bad by any means, but it wasn't something you should rush out to see either.
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