Chris Camozzi may now be in his third run in the UFC, but still shy of his 30th birthday he’s now on a three-fight win streak and looking to move ahead in the world. And he can do that with in a matchup with 12th ranked former title contender Thales Leites, who is also in a return run through the promotion.
Oddsmakers opened Leites as a sizable favorite at -270, but the market has since come in strongly behind Camozzi. Thales remains a mild favorite at -160, with the comeback on Camozzi +140. Let’s see if the market reaction was justified, and where the value may lie after such a big swing.
The traditional tale of the tape highlights the youth of Camozzi versus the range of Leites. The five-year age differential is somewhat offset by a range advantage for Leites. But perhaps surprisingly, it’s Camozzi who has racked up more professional fights than Leites, although both have been through 30+ fights in their careers to date.
On paper, Camozzi gets the edge in terms of his pace and defensive avoidance. But Leites does seem to have improved his standup during his more recent second UFC run, and even took current Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping five full rounds to a close split decision. Having fallen short in his two recent matchups against Bisping and Gegard Mousasi, Leites is headed in the opposite direction as Camozzi’s win streak.
But while Leites is older and doesn’t put out the volume of Camozzi, Leites can survive against solid strikers, and has done so against some of the best. And again, Leites has shown improvement in more recent outings, and keeping this to a three-rounder certainly helps. So the while Camozzi will have the edge to win minutes on the feet, he’s unlikely to put Leites away for good via strikes. And Camozzi’s forward style of high volume against the reluctant opponent could also loosen up his takedown defense.
On the mat is where Leites truly shines, having taken 14 of his professional wins by way of Submission. That’s in contrast to Camozzi’s more well-balanced fighting style, though one that has been exposed on the mat by expert grapplers in the past. Should the fight go to the ground, Leites will have a big advantage, and should threaten with submissions if the opportunity arises.
Leites attempts frequent takedowns, but with low overall success, while Camozzi’s defense is about average. Clearly there will be a position battle, and if Leites gets top control he’s demonstrated the ability to use it well, controlling opponents more often than not, and attempting frequent submissions. Camozzi on the mat has mostly been focused on playing defense, which loses rounds, or worse, eventually leads to a tap.
The market may have supported an underpriced Camozzi, but perhaps they took it a little too far. Leites has faced superior opponents, revamped his standup, and has the tools to threaten Camozzi as soon as this hits the mat. The question will be how soon that occurs, and whether Leites can keep it there. At the current price, Leites is worth a play straight up, banking on him to keep it competitive while on the feet then and eventually get an opportunity to change levels.
The Over 2.5 rounds is currently -210, on the assumption that these two won’t find many opportunities to threaten each other, and that it will be mostly a battle for position. But the Leites by submission prop at +353 is a reasonable longshot that could come through. If the fight does go to the cards, it will be more of a tossup, which is why the No Scorecards prop for Leites is still past -300, and not worth taking.