UFC 163 results recap: Thales Leites vs Tom Watson fight review and analysis

Photo by Esther Lin via MMA Fighting

How did Thales Leites make a successful UFC return? Find out below!

Two middleweight veterans squared off last night (Aug. 3, 2013) as former UFC title challenger Thales Leites battled Tom Watson on the UFC 163 main card in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

Leites was returning to the Octagon after four years of competing outside the promotion, but he didn't miss a beat.

While many expected Watson so hold a striking edge, it was surprisingly Leites who stepped forward aggressively, cracking "Kong" with a big pair of hooks which helped him close the distance and drag the Brit to the ground. Once there, Leites was in complete control, able to pass Watson's guard with relative ease and transitioning from full mount to back control during most scrambles, although he wasn't able to score any submissions.

Despite Leites' dominance, Watson was able to pop back to his feet in the final minute and land some decent blows, although it wasn't nearly enough to win back the round.

It was rinse and repeat in round two as Leites again landed some nice strikes and took Watson down, dominating the former BAMMA middleweight champion with superior top position and even threatening to end the fight with an armbar although Watson again gutted through it.

Once more, Watson finished the round strong with some good strikes on the inside and he was hoping to build some momentum for the third frame.

That momentum never paid off as Leites blasted Watson with a left hook to open the third round, creating a nasty cut under his right eye which immediately began pouring out blood. Watson tried to fight back as best he could, but he was once again dragged down and dominated, nearly getting finished by an arm triangle in the final two minutes of the bout.

The judges' job was easy when it was all said and done, awarding Leites a unanimous decision.

For Tom Watson, as much of a better striker as he was supposed to be, he simply got off to a horribly slow start and never recovered. He was the superior clinch fighter, but that also just opened him up to takedowns via trip or underhooks and he surprisingly was even at best when exchanging blows with Leites in the open. What killed Watson perhaps even more than the ground domination was the fact that he could not defend himself properly in the slightest. His right hand was always low and that allowed Leites to repeatedly punch him in the face with a lead left hook. This made Leites' takedowns even easier as Watson then had to focus on the striking rather than avoiding the canvas.

Next up for Watson could be anyone from Alan Belcher to Chris Leben or perhaps Tim Boetsch.

For complete UFC 163 results, including blow-by-blow, fight-by-fight coverage of the entire event as well as immediate post-fight reaction click here and here.

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