Sherdog's Pro's Pick feature comes up with one of the most one-sided counts I've ever seen:
Pros that picked Silva: 18
Pros that picked Leites: 1
Pros that did not pick a winner: 3
UFC.com's Michael DiSanto has to come up with a scenario that makes this bout intriguing. Here's what he came up with:
The challenger needs to circle early and avoid engaging in the opening seconds. That may lull Silva into some showboating as the crowd jeers. One of his showboating techniques is to stick his chin out and roll his hands in a Saturday Night Fever sort of way. He does that while walking in. It is a taunt designed to get his opponent to strike so that he can counter, which really is what Silva does best.
Leites has no choice but to attack at that point. He needs to attack as soon as he sees Silva bring his hands together while leaning forward. For that split second, Silva is out of position to fire an effective counter. Thus, Leites needs to dive in with a right hand like there is no tomorrow. All he needs to do is land one shot on the chin and the fight could be over. Silva has a great chin, but anyone can get knocked out with those little vale tudo gloves.
Leites needs to have a backup plan. That plan consists of trying to time a Silva punch and shoot for a takedown. He cannot lead with a takedown attempt because Silva has an excellent sprawl and, more importantly, he is expert at timing shots with a flying knee strike. He knocked out Carlos Newton by countering a takedown with a flying knee strike to the jaw at PRIDE 25.
Yet, if he can shoot off of a Silva punch, he may very well get the fight to the ground. Once there, he needs to be very aggressive trying to pass into a dominant position so that he can work for a submission or try to pound out the champion.
He cannot be cautious and calculating on the ground because Silva is a black belt with an excellent guard. He has extremely long, lean legs, which allow him to place his opponent in a body triangle from the guard. That eliminates any chance of passing and also effectively neutralizes all submission attempts, so it just becomes a ground-and-pound game while caught in Silva’s guard, and that isn’t an overly effective way to end the fight.
If Leites is able to get into side mount, Kimuras and arm bars are a real possibility. Also, Silva likes to defend side mount by rolling to his stomach and standing up. That opens the door for Leites to take his back and look for a rear naked choke.
Again, he needs to throw the kitchen sink at Silva in terms of submission attempts because it isn’t likely that with Leites’ lack of dominant wrestling skills that he will be able to take down Silva repeatedly during the bout.
I love how plan A is to throw a hail mary punch. I think I'm alone out there in giving Leites a decent chance against Silva. Anderson's losses have all come against strong ground fighters and Leites fits that bill.
Don't get me wrong, I'm picking Silva, but I think Leites has a better chance than he's being given by most.
UPDATE: Kelvin Hunt has a nice piece from a little while back that makes the case for Thales:
Anderson Silva loves to feel out his opponent for the first couple minutes of the fight. He uses that time to gauge distance and get a sense of timing for his opponents. Then he explodes with a variety of moves, sometimes it's a flying knee or the straight left. Silva likes to entertain and if he goes for a flying knee or something spectacular Leites could get the take down to work his magic. Leites had Marquardt mounted a couple of times only to let Marquardt either escape or reclaim half/full guard. As I mentioned earlier, Marquardt is one of the larger/stronger guys of the MW division and an accomplished grappler in his own right. So I'm not so sure that Silva would be able to escape being mounted by Leites. I would also like to think that Leites has watched the Marquardt fight and tighten up the errors that he made on the ground in that fight.