The Nova Uniao talent faces rising middleweight Krzysztof Jotko Saturday night at UFC Fight Night 100 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and believes that his recent losses to Gegard Mousasi and current 185-pound champion Michael Bisping made him a better fighter.
"You learn more in losses. That’s when you stop to learn from your mistakes," Leites told MMA Fighting. "Sometimes you’re winning fights so you don’t stop and analyze everything. I did it now.
"I lost to two tough guys, the current champion and a top 5 fighter who has won a few fights in a row now, and then I beat Chris Camozzi, who’s a tough guy, and imposed my game. I continue believing in me. I stay focused no matter what people say. I will do my thing in there."
A decision loss to Bisping snapped an eight-fight winning streak for the Brazilian, who saw himself down 0-2 after another decision loss to Mousasi earlier this year. Both fighters are on a roll in the UFC today, but Leites isn’t fueled by revenge.
"I don’t think about vengeance. I live the moment," he said. "I lost, they were the better fighters, but losing to fighters at the top of the division shows you can make it. It’s not magic. They didn’t go there and steamroll me. It was a close fight with Bisping, and Mousasi really dominated me, but it happens. I’ll keep going forward."
Even though Leites isn’t focused on avenging his recent losses, he does focus on being at the top of the division and challenging for the UFC middleweight championship a second time. The Nova Uniao fighter, who had his chance in 2009 against Anderson Silva, welcomes any challenge thrown at his direction, even when it doesn’t help him go up in the rankings.
"It doesn’t change anything for me that my opponent doesn’t have a big name," Leites said of Jotko. "It changes for the media and rankings, and I don’t think about the rankings because it’s a subjective vote from journalists. (Jotko) has two arms and two legs, trains hard and wants to win."
"Every fighter who has a big name today was an unknown fighter who one day believed in himself and made it," he continued. "I see this fight as any other fight, as I would see a title fight. There’s no such thing as time machine. Whatever happened in the past has happened, so I have to focus on what’s next."
Jotko holds a 5-1 UFC record and needed less than a minute to stop Tamdan McCrory in his most recent fight. Leites doesn’t expect an easy win at the Ibirapuera gymnasium in Sao Paulo, and that’s why he loves the match-up.
"He’s aggressive, but he fights smart, attacks on the right moment," Leites said. "He’s growing in the division, has won four in a row now and has an excellent record, 18 wins and only one defeat. Now it’s time to go in there and clash to see what happens. I think he will try to stand with me, and I will trade with him. It’s MMA. Even if you have the intention to take the fight to the ground, the fight starts standing and anything can happen."