UFC Fight Night 39 Play: Thales Leites (-440) vs Trevor “Hot Sauce” Smith (+350)

thales-leitesUFC Fight Night 39 Date: April 11, 2014 Arena: DU Arena City: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates Middleweight bout: Thales Leites (-440) vs Trevor “Hot Sauce” Smith (+350) Fight Breakdown: The UFC Fight Night 39 in Abu Dhabi preliminary card will feature a middleweight contest between former UFC middleweight title challenger Thales Leites and Strikeforce veteran Trevor “Hot Sauce” Smith. Leites is the favorite heading into this bout at -440 ($440 to win $100), with Smith being the underdog at +350 ($100 to win $350) at Several Bookmakerss. Thales Leites (22-4 MMA, 6-3 UFC) has been dominant in his second stint inside the Octagon, with back to back dominant unanimous decision victories over Tom “Kong” Watson and Ed “Short Fuse” Herman, respectively. Nearly five months since the Herman victory and on a five-fight winning streak with two inside the Octagon, Leites will be looking to keep the streak alive against Smith. The Brazilian is not a talented striker, but his skills on the feet have been improving. He likes to clinch up with his opponents against the cage, and is good at scoring points from that position, while looking for body-lock and trip takedowns, which he is good at scoring. Leites is a talented Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt who works good takedowns and has dominant top control. He transitions well on the mat, advancing from position to position. He works some good ground and pound, and is excellent at taking his opponents’ backs. The Brazilian loves looking for the arm triangle choke, which is his favorite submission to go for, and he has secured six of his 13 professional mixed martial arts victories with that technique. Leites is good at setting up and timing his takedowns, but he slows down as the fight progresses, and by the third round he begins to telegraph his takedowns, as well as his strikes. His cardio needs to be improved, but I don’t believe it will play a factor in this bout, as he will still have the advantage in that department against Smith. Trevor “Hot Sauce” Smith (11-4 MMA, 1-1 UFC) is coming off a split decision victory over Brian Houston nearly three months ago, and will be looking to put together his first string of wins in over two years. The Strikeforce veteran has a solid Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game, owning an impressive nine of his 11 professional mixed martial arts victories by way of submission. While his submission game is noteworthy, his takedowns leave something to be desired. He is not very powerful, so he lacks explosion behind his takedown attempts, as well as proper technique. His submission defense is not the best, either, as was evident in his bout against Tim Kennedy, which resulted in a third round submission loss. He is easier to catch in the third round than he is in the first, as he has poor cardio and slows down considerably as the fight progresses. Rather than improving his cardio fight to fight, Smith’s cardio has been getting worse and worse. He will undoubtedly be at a cardio disadvantage against the Brazilian. The Strikeforce veteran likes to throw leg kicks, and his striking in general has been improving fight to fight, unlike his conditioning. He has been using his hands more and more, though he does lack proper striking defense. The 33 year old has a decent clinch game against the cage, from where he likes to implement his knees. He has been knocked out twice in his professional fighting career, and believes both stoppages were premature. I can’t disagree with him. While he has a tendency of getting rocked, his chin isn’t bad, and his recovery is excellent. That said, I think anybody who packs power will be able to stop him with strikes within three rounds of action. It may not be his chin that does him in, but his poor cardio would sure be costly. An average-at-best grappler and rudimentary striker, Smith has said that he likes the idea of winning fights without throwing a single punch, and has done so early in his career. Now fighting for the big show, that does not seem very realistic. But hey, tell that to Demian Maia. Gabe’s Prediction: Leites is the better all-around mixed martial artist in this match-up, and I believe he will get the better of Smith everywhere. I think he will tag him a couple of times, but only to set up his takedowns, which he will score. While in top position on the mat, he will begin to work his ground and pound while simultaneously looking to advance positions and secure a submission finish, which I think he will eventually find. However, if he doesn’t, I think he will still take all three rounds on the judges’ scorecards for a unanimous decision victory. Gabe’s Call: Leites by Submission (arm triangle choke, 2:23 round 3) Gabe’s Recommended Plays: Thales Leites (-440) parlayed with Rosholt/Omielanczuk Over 1.5 rounds (-215) for -126 2.2u to win 1.5u, and Thales Leites (-440) parlayed with Rani Yahya (-175) for -108 2.7u to win 2.5u

Written by Gabe Killian

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