UFC Fight Night 39 Fight Breakdown: Thales Leites (-460) vs Trevor Smith (+365)

Thales-Leites One of the prelims at UFC Fight Night 39 is a middleweight bout between Thales Leites and Trevor “Hot Sauce” Smith. The current betting line for the fight at Several Bookmakers lists Leites as a -460 favorite (bet $460 to win $100) while Smith is a +365 underdog (bet $100 to win $365). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Leites at -385 and Smith at +265, meaning all the action so far has come in on the favorite Leites. I agree with the action coming in on Leites as I’m picking him to win the fight. Here’s why. Leites (22-4) is an extremely well-rounded middleweight and is one of the most experienced fighters in the entire division. The 32-year-old Brazilian fought in the UFC from 2006 to 2009, going 5-3 overall and most notably losing a terrible decision to Anderson Silva in one of the worst UFC fights of all time. After the UFC cut him, Leites went back to the drawing board and after being released by the UFC 6-1 overall and earned himself another trip to the Octagon. Since returning to the UFC last year, Leites has gone 2-0 with two decisive decision wins over Ed Herman and Tom Watson. He looked fantastic in both fights, showing off both his trademark grappling as well as improved striking, and he looks like he’s hitting a second wind in his career. A talented fighter who should have never been cut from the UFC in the first place (his loss against Alessio Sakara was a bad decision by the judges), Leites has looked great lately and he likely continues his hot streak in this matchup against Smith. Smith (11-4) is a Strikeforce vet who made it to the UFC following that promotion’s demise, and he’s since gone 1-1 in the Octagon with a “Fight of the Night” split decision loss against Ed Herman and a split decision win over Brian Houston earlier this year. The 33-year-old is a pretty talented grappler with good wrestling and submission skills and he’s also improved his striking in recent fights. However, his striking defence is horrendous and overall he’s rather poor on the feet. Although he is dangerous on the ground (nine career submission wins), he is actually the inferior grappler in this matchup against Leites and he’s the inferior striker as well. So outside of a crazy knockout punch or maybe a sneaky guillotine choke, there doesn’t seem to be many paths to victory for Smith and it makes sense he is a big dog in this fight. I believe Leites is better in every area of mixed martial arts and he should be able to mix in his strikes with takedowns and win a clear-cut, unanimous decision on the judges’ scorecards, if not get a late stoppage on Smith if he tires out. At -460, I do think Leites is worth putting into a parlay to cut the juice on another favorite as, in my mind anyways, Smith beating him would be a massive upset. I also think there is value on the prop of the fight going to decision at only -115 as both these guys are relatively tough to finish and I do think it should go the full three rounds most of the time.

Written by Adam Martin.

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