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UFC Fight Night 72 fight card: Michael Bisping vs Thales Leites full fight preview

Michael Bisping and Thales Leites will scrap TONIGHT (July 18, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 72 inside The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland. In a match up of veteran middleweights, what adjustments must be made for either man to claim victory? Find out below!

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight veterans Michael Bisping and Thales Leites will battle TONIGHT (July 18, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 72 inside The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland.

Bisping has been incredibly consistent lately, but not in the way that he would hope. He's alternated wins and losses in his last eight fights, which has been enough to keep him in the Top 10, but Bisping has still been falling short of title contention.

Meanwhile, Leites is on a hell of a hot streak. He's won his last eight fights, including five inside the Octagon. If the Brazilian can take out the long-time contender, he'll be in the proverbial mix.

Let's take a look at the keys to victory for each fighter:

Michael Bisping
Record: 26-7
Key Wins: C.B. Dollaway (UFC 186), Brian Stann (UFC 152), Alan Belcher (UFC 159)
Key Losses: Luke Rockhold (UFC Fight Night 55),Tim Kennedy (TUF Nations Finale), Vitor Belfort (UFC on FX 7)
Keys to Victory: At this point in his career, Bisping's strengths and weaknesses are well-established. The Englishman is a very active kickboxer with good conditioning and takedown defense, but he's also a pretty easy fighter to punch.

While Leites is extremely solid all-around and has some deadly Brazilian jiu-jitsu, it's really nothing that Bisping hasn't seen before. He's not cleaner or more powerful on his feet than other man that Bisping has beaten, nor are his takedowns more powerful.

In short, Bisping's usual strategy of fighting should work quite well for him. So long as he's defensively aware early on and avoids any big punches, Bisping's conditioning should slowly turn the fight to his favor.

That's actually pretty standard for Bisping. Early on, he's not the most dominant fighter, but he really turns it on once his opponent begins to slow down. Leites' cardio isn't a flaw, but he will slow down a bit.

In a five round fight, Bisping should have the necessary time to make his style work.


Thales Leites
: 25-4
Key Wins: Tim Boetsch (UFC 183), Francis Carmont (UFC Fight Night 49), Tom Watson (UFC 163)
Key Losses: Anderson Silva (UFC 97), Alessio Sakara (UFC 101)
Keys to Victory: Leites has been an excellent Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt for some time, but his Muay Thai and clinch wrestling skills have come a long way since he battled Anderson Silva many years ago. In addition, Leites has found his power, having earned half of his career knockout wins in his last three fights.

In this bout, Leites cannot wait around. Bisping's chance at victory grows the longer this fight lasts, so Leites needs to push forward from the get-go in an attempt to finish or at least seriously damage his opponent.

As mentioned, Bisping is hittable. With Leites' recent improvements to his punching power, rushing toward Bisping with a flurry of heavy punches would be an excellent strategy. If he moves into the clinch from there, all the better, both for potential takedowns and dirty boxing.

Obviously, dragging Bisping to the mat would be huge for Leites. And once more, he should look to do it early, as Bisping's takedown defense is not going to decline as the fight wears on. In addition, Leites needs to make sure he lands a few solid punches before changing levels, as his pure wrestling ability may not be enough to get Bisping down.

He needs to mix it up.

Bottom Line: While neither man are likely to win the title, anything is possible in this crazy sport. That said, it's really their last chance to make something happen.

At this point, Bisping is going to need quite the win streak to earn a title shot. He's quite established as a gatekeeper to the 185-pound elite, and it will take several wins for him to shed that reputation. While Leites would be a quality victory, that's only a start.

Meanwhile, a loss wouldn't really change where Bisping stands. It would simply be telling on how good Leites has become.

Speaking of the Brazilian, this could be a very big win for Leites. It's not enough to win him a title shot or even a title eliminator -- the top of the middleweight division is pretty jammed up at the moment -- but it would put him quite close, likely two fights away.

On the other hand, a loss would likely mean the end of the idea of Leites as a title contender. His resurgence and improvement would still be quite impressive, but not every fighter can comeback like Robbie Lawler or Andrei Arlovski.

At UFC Fight Night 72, Michael Bisping and Thales Leites will fight to get into the title mix. Which fighter will earn the victory?

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