Thales Leites has a chance to extend his winning streak against a fellow ranked fighter.
The red-hot Brazilian meets Tim Boetsch at UFC 183 on Jan. 31 in Las Vegas, the UFC announced Wednesday morning. Leites is ranked No. 11 among middleweight contenders and Boetsch is No. 13. The matchup represents a huge opportunity for both to further carve out a path toward a title shot.
Leites (24-4) has been one of the best stories of 2014, though somewhat under the radar. The former middleweight No. 1 contender who infamously fought Anderson Silva in a listless 2009 title bout was cut by the UFC later that year. In his second go-around with the organization, Leites has won four in a row and is on a seven-fight winning streak in total.
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The 32-year-old’s game has evolved. Once strictly a Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist, Leites has knocked out his last two opponents, Francis Carmont and Trevor Smith, and looks like a serious threat on the feet.
Boetsch (18-7) will have his work cut out for him. He has won two of his last three and is coming off a thrilling TKO of Brad Tavares in August. The 33-year-old Maine native has a flair for drama in his fights. He was down against both Tavares and Yushin Okami in 2012 before rallying to knock them out. Boetsch is 6-3 in the UFC since moving down to middleweight.
UFC 183 is headlined by a middleweight blockbuster between Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz. The Las Vegas venue has yet to be announced.