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Justifying Thales Leites Getting A UFC Middleweight Title Shot

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Kevin Iole writes:

Perhaps, but Leites is still dogged by the question of how he got the fight instead of others perceived to be ahead of him. He seems to be behind men such as Yushin Okami, Dan Henderson, Demian Maia and Michael Bisping in the pecking order, perplexing some who wonder what he did to leapfrog them.

Thales Leites is getting a title shot because of the following:

  • Yushin Okami-Truth be told I don't see how wins over the late Evan Tanner(who was coming off a VERY long layoff) and journeyman Dean Lister in 2008, coupled with a decision win over middle of the pack Jason MacDonald in 2007 warrant a title shot like most people clamour for when it comes to Okami.  Okami was also injured for the majority of 2008 which pushed him out of the title picture as others put together wins.
  • Dan Henderson-He just had a title shot a little over a year ago and lost.  Only to win a lackluster decision over Rousimar Palhares.  Then squeak by former champion Rich Franklin earlier this year at LHW.  He hasn't earner another title shot yet.
  • Demian Maia-Maia could possibly have a gripe, but he's faced about the same level of competition as Leites in my opinion.  He still hasn't beaten a top 10 middleweight though, and Leites has(we'll get to that later).
  • Micheal Bisping-No way he deserves a title shot with 3 wins over journeyman middleweights after moving down from the LHW division.
  • Nate Marquardt-Iole forgot this one.  Marquardt probably has the best argument over everyone in terms of getting another title shot.  He's gone 3-1(with the loss being a controversial one to Leites) while finishing all of his opponents.

When it comes to Thales Leites, most people bring up two things:

  1. The loss to Martin Kampmann
  2. The controversial split decision win over top ten MW Nathan Marquardt.

Indeed, Leites lost to Martin Kampmann but that was almost 3 years ago.  Tito Ortiz beat Forrest Griffin at one point in time...yea ok.  Also, most people forget that Kampmann wasn't too far away from getting a title shot before getting injured prior to his upcoming match against Rich Franklin at UFC 72.  In regards to Leites and his win over Marquardt.  I look at it like this.  Marquardt hit Leites with a devastating illegal knee in the first round of that fight that changed that whole fight in my opinion.  The thing is Marquardt couldn't finish Leites.  In turn, Leites had him in some sticky situations at different points in that fight.  He had him mounted a couple of times and held his own, and Marquardt broke the rules.  Simple as that.  You could say that Marquardt would have won the fight if the two points hadn't been deducted.  You could also say that Arlovski would have won the fight against Fedor if he hadn't tried to do the running man and thrown that flying knee.  Leites won the fight making it 5 wins in a row, and a win over a top ten middleweight.  Which is something these other fighters can't say.  Thus, putting Leites in the position to challenge Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight championship.