On Saturday morning, number ten ranked middleweight, Thales Leites, will be stepping into the cage with the number nine ranked Michael Bisping. Leites has been red hot since returning to the UFC, reeling of five straight wins. Bisping has had mixed results since returning to competition after a long injury layoff. He has gone 3-2 over his last five fights, and he’s 4-4 in his last eight. Both of these fighters are extremely experienced. Leites has improved his striking lately, but on the feet is where Bisping does his best work. Although he lacks power, the Brit has excellent technique and cardio. He keeps a high pace the whole fight and tries to wear his opponent down.
Leites has looked great since getting back into the UFC. In my opinion he never should have been cut in the first place. His grappling is world class, and his striking has shown great improvement. Even though his striking has gotten better, he should still try and get this fight to the mat. Bisping does have some excellent takedown defense, he has stuffed 64% of takedowns attempted against him, but he is susceptible to grapplers. Tim Kennedy, Luke Rockhold, and Chael Sonnen were all able to succeed against Bisping on the mat. Rockhold even managed to submit ‘The Count’ in 2014.
Leites is not a high level wrestler, but if he can get this fight to the mat then he will win. If he stands with Bisping round after round he may find himself exhausted and eating punches. This is a really big fight for both of these men. Bisping wants to show that he is still an elite middleweight, while Leites wants to put himself in position to get a title shot by beating one of the UFC’s premier gatekeepers. Both of these fighters have their clear paths to victory. Whoever can keep the fight in their world will pick up the victory.