by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
With an undefeated record of 9-0 and a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Thales Leites is considered one of the hottest middleweight prospects in MMA. In October, Leites was scheduled to make his UFC debut against Nathan Marquardt but was unable to make it to the U.S. due to complications in obtaining his Visa. The Nova Uniao fighter recently spoke with MMAWeekly from Las Vegas to discuss about his opponent and his dream of finally fighting in the UFC.
MMAWeekly: How was your trip?
Thales Leites: The trip was good; everything was okay.
MMAWeekly: You were originally scheduled to make your UFC debut against Nathan Marquardt. Due to Visa problems, you were unable to make the fight. Can you elaborate more on what happened?
Thales Leites: My fight was on October 10th and the consulate scheduled my interview appointment [to approve of his entry into the U.S.] on October 11th. I told him that this wasn’t going to work because I was fighting on October 10th. I asked them what I could do and they told me that they couldn’t reschedule the appointment. The UFC told me to go to the interview on October 11th to get my Visa and I would fight next month.
MMAWeekly: How was your training camp?
Thales Leites: My training went well. Like I do for all of my fights, I’m training very hard. I’m 100% for this fight.
MMAWeekly: What is your ‘walk-around’ weight?
Thales Leites: When I’m not training, I usually weigh 200 to 205 pounds.
MMAWeekly: Is it hard for you to make 185 pounds?
Thales Leites: I don’t think so. I can lose the weight easily.
MMAWeekly: Fighting in the UFC is a dream for many fighters. What does it mean to you?
Thales Leites: I never imagined that I would be fighting here. When I started training for MMA, it was my dream to make it to the UFC. Now I have my chance. I want to show my abilities and one day fight for the belt.
MMAWeekly: How did the UFC go about contacting you?
Thales Leites: It was my manager who got me set up with the UFC.
MMAWeekly: How many fights do you have on your UFC contract?
Thales Leites: I have three fights on my contract.
MMAWeekly: What do you think of your opponent Martin Kampmann?
Thales Leites: I think he’s very explosive. He can fight on his feet or on the ground, he’s well-rounded. He’s on a six fight winning streak. I’m ready for him and it will be a good fight.
MMAWeekly: Are you doing anything specific in training to prepare for Kampmann?
Thales Leites: Nothing specific. It doesn’t matter who my opponent is, I train hard. I’m ready.
MMAWeekly: Who has been the biggest influence in your MMA career?
Thales Leites: The Brazilian fighters who fight in Pride and the UFC. Also, my team and training partners.
MMAWeekly: You’re part of a great team in Nova Uniao. What’s it like training with those guys?
Thales Leites: I’m PROUD to train with them and represent Nova Uniao.
MMAWeekly: With the recent signing of fellow Nova Uniao fighters, has the UFC approached your teammate Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro with an offer?
Thales Leites: I don’t understand why the UFC hasn’t made him an offer yet. In my opinion, he’s one of the best fighters in the world in his weight class. I believe he will be fighting in K-1 [Hero’s] soon.
MMAWeekly: Is there anybody in the UFC that you would like to fight?
Thales Leites: No one in particular, I’ll fight anybody at my weight class. I don’t choose my opponents. I want to fight the best fighters in the middleweight division and win the belt one day.
MMAWeekly: How about Anderson Silva?
Thales Leites: He is a great fighter and deserves to hold the belt. It would be an honor for me to fight him.
MMAWeekly: Do you ever see yourself fighting in Pride or K-1?
Thales Leites: I’m in the UFC and I’m not thinking about K-1 or Pride right now. I’m very happy and I want to establish my career in the UFC. Maybe in the future…
MMAWeekly: You just had an impressive win over Jose “Pele” Landi-Jons back in late April. How do you rate your performance in that fight?
Thales Leites: I performed well. I did my homework [laughs].
MMAWeekly: You’re known for your Jiu-Jitsu but a lot of people don’t know that you’re also a good striker. Can fans expect to see some of your striking skills this weekend?
Thales Leites: Yes, my striking is very sharp [jokingly laughs]. The fans can expect everything of course. I’m training very hard with my Muay Thai coach Marcelo Aguiar and have worked with him for the last two years.
MMAWeekly: I want to thank you for taking time out of your schedule to speak with MMAWeekly. Do you have anything you’d like to say to your fans?
Thales Leites: I want to thank everyone for their support. I want everyone to know that I will always fight to win and will never give up.