Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight contenders Gegard Mousasi and Thales Leites threw down last night (Feb. 27, 2016) at UFC Fight Night 84 inside The 02 Arena in London, England.
Mousasi's UFC career may not be long, but he's already had his fair share of ups and downs. In order to make the title run many have hoped for, Mousasi needed to get back into the win column last night.
On the other hand, Leites has out-performed expectations with his current UFC run. He's earned his position inside the Top 10, but the Brazilian needed to take out Mousasi in order to insert himself into the title picture
Leites wasted no time in closing the distance and looking for the clinch takedown. Despite his opponent's best efforts, Mousasi showed some great defense and nice hips by defending and breaking away back to the center of the takedown.
Before long, Mousasi established his range and began to score with his jab and other long punches. As usual, Mousasi did a brilliant job of stymieing his opponent's offense and slowing down the pace of the bout, as he stuffed Leites' attempts too exchange and continued to deny his takedowns.
On the whole, Mousasi looked pretty fantastic in his usual apathetic way in the first round.
Mousasi opened the second round with a fairly high level of activity, snapping his opponent's head back with jabs and digging into low kicks. Each time Leites got a bit more wild and tried to make something happen, Mousasi would counter with a sharp punch and stop his flurry.
Getting picked apart really began to wear on Leites as the round went deeper. He began shooting from far away without really changing levels, which is a sure sign of desperation. Furthermore, he basically pulled guard to end the round.
In short, the second round was even stronger for Mousasi, who stepped up his volume and shook his opponent with hard punches a couple times.
Leites attempted to flurry to start the round, but he ate a counter punch and pulled guard instead. To his credit, Leites tried again to throw wild and did land a couple wide punches, but his opponent absorbed them and countered well.
Each time Leites tried to make something happen, Mousasi would quickly diffuse the situation and put his opponent back on the defensive. Then, when Mousasi reversed another takedown and took top position, he simply controlled his opponent until the final bell.
While some will criticize Mousasi for not pushing hard for the finish, I am not one of those people. Mousasi has finished thirty of his past opponents, but he's never been one to attempt to force the finish. Instead, Mousasi flows with the fight and looks to capitalize on any opportunity given to him.
Ultimately, Leites hung tough and pulled guard too often for him to knock him out.
Overall, this was a pretty masterful performance by Mousasi, who picked his opponent apart without much issue. That said, it would behoove Mousasi to throw in combination more often, as he may have been able to walk Leites into a fight-finishing right hand.
Regardless, Mousasi's next foe should be Anderson Silva.
This was a rough style match up for Leites, and his face wore the damage. Leites' method of closing the distance has never been pretty, but most of his opponents failed to take advantage. Mousasi, on the other hand, capitalized with sharp strikes and forced his opponent into a shell.
When Leites' attempts to score the takedown failed, he was basically out of options.
Following this loss, Leites is still a Top 15-ranked fighter, but he's far from the title mix. He should face off with C.B. Dollaway, another highly ranked Middleweight in a similar situation.
Last night, Gegard Mousasi easily won a unanimous decision over Thales Leites. Can Mousasi make his way to the title?
For complete UFC Fight Night 84 "Silva vs Bisping" results and play-by-play, click HERE!