The detractors have said their piece -- now it’s time to prove them wrong.
That is the sentiment coming from the camp of Thales Leites, who has officially signed on to join the middleweight ranks in the Maximum Fighting Championship. In all likelihood, the standout Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace will make his debut with the organization at MFC 23: Unstoppable on Dec. 4 – quite possibly against another top-ranked title contender, Bryan Baker.
Leites sports a strong 14-3 career record with nine of those victories coming by submission – a list that includes Drew McFedries, Ryan Jensen, and Jose Landis-Jons. The six-foot-one native of Rio de Janeiro also holds wins over Nate Marquardt and Pete Sell, and he has not been stopped in any of his three defeats. Leites’ manager, Ed Soares, immediately declared that Leites is eager to show what he truly can do.
"He’s looking forward to getting back on the right path, getting wins and putting on a great show," said Soares.
"I think he’s going to go out and prove people wrong. There’s not much to say. Talk is cheap. Thales is going to show everyone what he can do."
Leites last fought in Canada against Anderson Silva, unquestionably one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world. It was a disappointing night for Leites – a result that called into question his willingness to engage and do battle. That situation, Soares indicated, won’t be repeated.
"Thales is very excited about going out and showing everyone what he’s capable of doing," said Soares. "It’s not a new Thales. There were a lot of changes going on in his life before the Silva fight and he wasn’t as focused as he should have been but he still went five rounds with Silva when Forrest Griffin couldn’t get out of the first round.
"Thales is very eager to go out and finish a fight. It doesn’t matter who is opponent is, Thales is going to look to finish the fight. He has the heart of a lion and he’s going to go and leave it all out there in the ring. I feel he’s at the top of the MFC middleweight division right now but he’s got to go out and get the win and have an impressive performance."
Leites has obvious credentials as a submission specialist, but Soares also noted the 17-fight veteran has improved his stand-up skills of late – a much-required attribute should a showdown with Baker come to fruition.