by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
Nova Uniao middleweight standout Thales Leites confirmed to MMAWeekly.com that he will face Nate Marquardt on Feb. 2 at Ultimate Fighting Championship 81.
The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt says he signed the bout agreement a couple weeks ago. He currently has two fights left on his contract, including the upcoming bout.
“I think Nate is a great fighter,” commented Leites. “He’s very technical and is very experienced.”
He was originally scheduled to make his UFC debut against Marquardt on the undercard of Ortiz vs. Shamrock 3: The Final Chapter. Leites, however, was unable to make it to the U.S. due to complications in obtaining a visa.
“At this moment I think this will be the toughest fight of my career,” he commented.
Since losing his Octagon debut against Martin Kampmann, Leites has compiled three straight victories. He is coming off of a submission win over Ryan Jensen at UFC 74.
Marquardt, a seven-time former King of Pancrase, made his UFC debut at the inaugural Ultimate Fight Night in 2005. The Colorado resident built himself up to title contender status, winning four straight in the Octagon including wins over Ivan Salaverry, Joe Doerksen and Dean Lister. He challenged middleweight champion Anderson Silva in July, but succumbed to the dominant Brazilian via strikes in the opening round.
“I don’t think the loss will affect him. He is a professional and will come in 100% for this fight, physically and mentally,” said Leites.
Silva is quickly becoming one of the most dominating champions in the UFC today. Many potential contenders wait for their opportunity to challenge for his belt.
“It is up to the UFC,” said Leites of a shot at Silva. “I just want to do my job and win my fights. When they think that it is my time, I will be ready. I’m not worried about it; I’m happy to fight in the UFC and I want to take it step-by-step towards the title.”
For Thales, a win over Marquardt could very well place the Rio de Janeiro resident into title contention, but he remains humble as ever.
“I would like to thank all of my fans for the support. I will always do my best.”
The only bout that has been officially confirmed by the UFC for Feb. 2 is the likely main event between Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir.
Bouts rumored for UFC 81, but not yet officially confirmed:
-Nathan Marquardt vs. Thales Leites
-Tyson Griffin vs. Gleison Tibau
-Alan Belcher vs. Ricardo Almeida
-David Heath vs. Andre Gusmao