Traditionally, Brazilian fighters have shied away from fighting fellow countrymen when competing outside of their home country. However, in a new interview with Brazilian MMA website Tatame, rising UFC middleweight Thales Leites indicates that he’s open to the idea of fighting Demian Maia, a rising UFC middleweight in his own right.
“I’d accept a fight [vs. Maia], I’m a professional,” Leites is quoted as saying in an interview translated from Portuguese to English. “Demian is a great fighter and has been doing a great job in UFC. It’s possible that they put this fight, because the belt is with a Brazilian guy and we’re growing, so they can put this fight to take one of the Brazilians from the tops.”
Having won four straight fights, Leites is looking for a win to catapult him into the UFC title picture, which currently revolves around another Brazilian middleweight, Anderson Silva.
A win over Maia would certainly make some noise, as his fellow countryman is 9-0 overall and 4-0 since entering the UFC in October of 2007. Maia is also a world renowned grappler who is coming off his greatest level of exposure having submitted Nate Quarry during the undercard of UFC 91, which was headlined by Randy Couture losing the UFC heavyweight title to Brock Lesnar.
Leites’ informal proposal of a bout vs. Maia is one that UFC Vice President of Talent Relations Joe Silva might give serious consideration to, as Maia is in need of a credible opponent for his next fight. Speculation had centered around Maia possibly serving as a coach opposite Michael Bisping for the next season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” however, with the U.S. vs. UK concept cemented, there appears to be no room for a Brazilian coaching a team comprised exclusively of American fighters.
In addition to having some marketing appeal, Leites makes the case that it would be an entertaining fight in terms of match quality.
“I believe it’d be a good fight,” Leites is quoted as telling Tatame. “We almost have the same game and it’s kind of different from the American guys, who goes from striking and work on the ground n’ pound. We know each other’s game and it’d be a huge fight. Demian has been doing a good job, but I’d accept this fight.”