RIO DE JANEIRO -- Thales Leites got the call to replace Michael Bisping against Gegard Mousasi after "The Count" was booked against former champion Anderson Silva in the main event of UFC Fight Night 84, and he’s interested in avenging losses to both headliners in the future.
Leites, who lost to Silva and Bisping via decision, battles Mousasi in the co-main event of Saturday’s UFC event in London, and will take a closer look at the headlining attraction at the O2 Arena.
"I want (rematches) with both of them," Leites said during a recent media day at Nova Uniao. "I want to fight the best in my division. If I have the opportunity to fight both of them in the future, I would accept it right away."
Leites, who holds a 5-1 record in his second UFC run, won’t rule out a chance to challenge the main event winner at the post-fight press conference -- and he expects "The Spider" to win.
"That’s an excellent option," he said. "I think about it, but I have to live step by step. I have a big challenge Saturday, and they both do too. Winning the fight, we’ll see what’s next."
"Bisping grows a lot when he’s fighting at home," he said of the main event. "Many people underestimate him, but he’s a top-10 (fighter) ever since he entered the UFC, and he only lost to excellent fighters. He’s a tough fight for anyone. Anderson is the favorite in my opinion, he has more technical qualities than Bisping, but it’s a fight."
Before thinking about a possible rematch, Leites knows he has to focus on Mousasi. The former Strikeforce and Dream champion enters the bout coming off a stunning knockout loss to Uriah Hall in Japan, and that could make him even more dangerous.
"He’s really dangerous, comes from the striking area and competed at K-1, PRIDE, and is a former Strikeforce champion. He has a lot of experience," Leites said. "He’s very calm, and that’s one of his biggest strengths. He doesn’t waste many blows. He’s dangerous. He has an excellent stand-up and takedown defense, and he’s good on the ground. He’s a complete fighter, but I’m ready for everything."
Mousasi is 0-2 in the UFC against Brazilians, and his 2014 loss to fellow jiu-jitsu expert Ronaldo Souza could show a smart game plan to follow.
"I’ve analyzed all of his fights, including the ‘Jacare’ loss," said Leites. "A fight is a fight and you can’t look at one fight only because you work on your mistakes to get better. But that’s an option. The fight starts standing, though, and you have to close the distance if you want to take him down. The fight starts standing, and we will strike. Versatility is the word. In this fight, who’s more versatile will win."
Ranked at No. 10 in the middleweight division, Leites doesn’t think he’s too far from a shot at the title.
"I see myself ready to fight anyone," he said. "The middleweight division is stacked. From number one to number five, anyone can fight for the belt. From six to 10, one or two wins can get you closer. I think it will be hard for someone to hold that title for so long like (Anderson Silva did) in the past."