Thales Leites eyes a top 10 opponent for his next bout. And the UFC's resurgent middleweight has somebody in mind.
Fresh off a second-round submission victory over Tim Boetsch at UFC 183, which earned him performance of the night and fight of the night bonuses, Leites would like to face former Strikeforce middleweight title contender Tim Kennedy next.
Kennedy, ranked No. 8 in the UFC middleweight division, had his four-fight winning streak snapped in a controversial third-round loss to Yoel Romero in September.
"I usually don’t choose opponents, I leave that to the UFC, but I believe Tim Kennedy is the best option for my next fight," Leites stated in a release. "I always want to be among the best, always respecting my opponents. He’s tough, he’s well ranked, and it would be an interesting fight."
Undefeated in five fights since returning to the UFC in 2013, including three stoppage wins in a row, Leites is happy to have finally submitted an opponent in Boetsch. It's the first time he's scored a submission victory since a win over Matt Horwich March of 2012.
"I always go for the submission, but I know the fight starts standing and that’s how things go," he said. "It’s getting harder every time to take my opponents down, and it’s even harder to keep them there. The feeling of submitting (an opponent) is amazing. I’m a jiu-jitsu guy and I love to put on the gi and train with my friends. That’s part of my job, but also one of my hobbies."
In fact, Leites credits his head coach Andre Pederneiras for predicting an arm-triangle choke finish over Boetsch on Jan. 31.
"Right before the fight, ‘Dede’ talked about the arm-triangle choke and said I would win that way. And it happened," Leites said. "He later said he had a premonition, and I asked him to let me know if that happens again next time."