For just the third time in his lengthy career, Thales Leites finished an opponent with his hands, scoring a first round TKO over Trevor Smith at UFC Fight Night 39 Friday.
Leites (23-4) earned his sixth straight victory, and third in a row inside the Octagon, since a 2010 loss to Matt Horwich. He previously fought for the UFC middleweight title, falling to Anderson Silva in 2009.
The Brazilian owns 13 career submission wins, but told Dan Hardy that he has been focusing on his striking in training.
“I’ve been training for a long time and I just had to believe in my hands,” he said. “I worked a lot with training in Brazil and had a great camp.”
Leites was released following a second straight decision loss in 2009, but got back to his roots on the regional scene. He is now 8-3 in 11 UFC fights and believes there is bigger things in his future.
“I wanna fight a Top-10 fighter,” he said. “I want on the main card.”