Brazilian Thales Leites (Pictures) is one of the best South American prospects currently fighting in the UFC. The BJJ black belt under Nova União returns to the octagon this Saturday on the undercard of the fifth Ultimate Fighter finale when he faces Floyd Sword in a middleweight contest. Leites (10-1-0) spoke with Sherdog.com and promised to show his BJJ skills once again.
What are your expectations of being back in the octagon, including having your fight shown live on television?
The expectation is always good. I trained hard to show myself better than before and to not commit any mistake, because there is always a risk to commit mistakes. I look to improve myself, and the fact that this fight will be shown live is another reason to make me more motivated and to train hard to show a great performance.
After two preliminary fights, it seems your fighting game pleased the fans, right?
Thank God, for sure (laughs). I hope they keep enjoying because I will always give my best to make a great fight and to reach my goals. My goals and also the fans' goals, because they want great fights and this is what I'm trying to do.
And how was your training for this fight?
The best possible. Dedé (Andre Pederneiras) lead us hard. The team always trains together, everybody united. I trained a lot for this match.
Do you know anything about your opponent, Floyd Sword?
This is my only trouble by now. I never watched anything about him. Actually I only saw a picture of him on the Internet. All I know is what he looks like and that he fought in King of the Cage. I know he has nine wins and six by submission, so he must have a improved ground game. The fact that I didn't see his fights makes him more dangerous, but this is not a big deal. I would like to know if he is left-handed or right-handed. My friend Gustavo Dantas told me he will try to get some of his fights and send it to me. Then I will analyze it.
You already felt the pressure of fighting in the UFC before and he hasn't. Do you think that this can make a difference?
This depends on the guy. There are some guys who feel the difference of fighting in the UFC, but there are others who didn't feel it. How he has fought in KOTC, he should be used to fighting in a cage. But whatever the case, we will see at the right time there in the octagon.
Let's talk about your last fight when you defeated Pete Sell (Pictures) by judges' decision. You dominated all fight long. The only thing that didn't happen was the submission.
For my last fight I was well prepared and focused. I went there to make a fight without any mistakes, but didn't want do only the basics. I was looking for the victory, but my game plan is to take down and submit -- to put my BJJ in action. He did well, was a warrior by defending the positions, including the anaconda choke that was very tight. He was truly a warrior, but everybody who saw the fight knows that I looked for the submission all the time. I didn't want to lose any position. I looked for the positions, peppering him with punches and trying to submit. It was a good fight.
On this same event, B.J. Penn (Pictures) will face Jens Pulver (Pictures). Do you have any bets?
I think this will be an awesome fight. They are both tough guys. They always fight well. B.J. will have his rematch. They are both tough and their last fight was a long time ago. I will bet on B.J. and I cheer for him.
UFC has brought several fighters to your weight class, making it very competitive. What do you think about it?
This weight division is already very competitive, but it will become more and more. This is a great thing because I'm there and I know the better fighters are all there. Of course it's hard to have all the top fighters there, but the UFC is signing a lot of people and really growing. We will be sure we'll have the toughest fight ever, and it will be harder than ever to get the title. The rankings will become more competitive and this is great because the fights will be even better and the fighters will have to train more and more to be there.
What are you expecting from the Anderson Silva-Nathan Marquardt (Pictures) match at UFC 73 for the title?
I think every fight has a different history. Of course, we have a point of view by knowing the guys. Anderson has excellent Muay Thai; he feels comfortable on his feet and he trusts his ground skills. Nathan also has his weapons; he is also a tough guy. I won't point the favorite. Let's wait for this fight. If I have to choose my favorite, I will vote for Anderson because he is Brazilian like me. Let us see how this fight will be.
K-1 HERO'S announced the first names for their lightweight tournament. Vitor Ribeiro (Pictures), your teammate, will be there. What are your expectations for your teammate in this tournament?
I think his participation will be the best possible. This is the opportunity he was waiting for. Shaolin is a very dedicated guy, is a great athlete, very tough. I think he will get this title.