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Thales Leites vows to finish Tim Boetsch to get one step closer to another title shot

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Veteran Thales Leites, one of the biggest betting favorites at UFC 183, is on a roll.

The Nova Uniao middleweight, who returned to the Octagon with four straight wins in 12 months, including stoppages over Francis Carmont and Trevor Smith, looks for another impressive victory against Tim Boetsch at the Saturday night event in Las Vegas.

Boetsch enters the bout coming off a TKO victory over Brad Tavares, bouncing back to the win column following a quick submission loss to Luke Rockhold. Being 2-3 in his past five UFC fights is not a sign that the fight is going to be easy, though.

"It’s a tough and experienced opponent," Leites told MMAFighting.com. "He’s not in a good win streak, but most of his losses were against really tough opponents, top 10 fighters, so it’s a dangerous fight. He has heavy hands, has a good chin. He has a lot of weapons, but I’m ready for everything."

Leites calls Boetsch "durable", and key wins over Yushin Okami, Hector Lombard and C.B. Dollaway taught him a few things about his opponents’ skillset.

"I’m going there to stand and trade punches with him, trying to knock him out, and we’ll see what happens," he said. "Whoever gets hits first will try to clinch and take the fight to the ground. It all depends on what happens in the fight. I’m ready to trade, grapple, stop takedowns, everything."

Finished four times in the UFC, Boetsch could drop once again at UFC 183 if Leites is able to do what he plans on Saturday night.

"Knockout or submission," the Brazilian said of how he plans on beating "The Barbarian". "This fight won’t go the distance."

Going 5-0 in a stacked division like middleweight is a big feat, and that could put Leites back in the top 10 six years after getting cut from the promotion. The Nova Uniao fighter, who once challenged Anderson Silva for the 185-pound championship, is not thinking about title fights yet.

"That’s too far from me right now," he said. "There are a lot of fighters ahead of me, and they deserve that. Anyone in the top 5 can win the title. I know I’m far from that place in the division, but I’m coming. Right now I’m not thinking about the title.

"I keep that out of my head for now. I know I fight in the biggest promotion in the world and compete with high-level fighters. If one day I’m fighting for the belt again is because I worked hard and deserve it. Doing my job, fighting and winning, I will move up the rankings step by step."