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Silva Retains Title with Unanimous Nod over Leites in UFC 97 Main Event

Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - Mama said there would be nights like this. In his first five rounder on Saturday night, UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva earned the UFC record for most consecutive wins and tied the mark for most consecutive title defenses with his unanimous decision win over Thales Leites, but the lackluster 25-minute bout earned more boos than cheers from the sold-out crowd at the Bell Centre for it’s sometimes bizarre lack of action.

By Thomas Gerbasi

MONTREAL, April 18 – Mama said there would be nights like this. In his first five rounder on Saturday night, UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva earned the UFC record for most consecutive wins and tied the mark for most consecutive title defenses with his unanimous decision win over Thales Leites, but the lackluster 25-minute bout earned more boos than cheers from the sold-out crowd at the Bell Centre for it’s sometimes bizarre lack of action.

“It’s unfortunate that things sometimes turn out that way, but when you’re not in here, it’s hard to tell what going on sometimes,” said Silva. “Sorry.”

Scores were 49-46, 48-47, and 50-46 for Silva.

After meeting each other in the middle of the Octagon, Silva and Leites circled each other at close range for over a minute before Silva threw out a range-finding jab at Leites. The action didn’t pick up much after that, with Silva stalking and Leites reluctant to throw anything back because of the possibility of a fight-ending counter. With just over two minutes left, Leites scored with kicks downstairs and up, prompting Silva to chase his foe with a little more urgency. Leites, for his part, stayed out of trouble and kept his cool. With under a minute left, Silva tripped Leites to the canvas, and after the Rio De Janeiro product got back up, Leites shot in for a takedown but was rebuffed and tied up by Silva until the bell sounded.

Again, the two opened the round mere inches away from each other, waiting for the right moment to strike. For Leites, that moment came when he took Silva to the canvas and began to work his ground game. While in Silva’s guard, Leites fired off ground strikes, but his guard pass was turned away as Silva scrambled and stood up. Back standing, Silva dropped his hands, daring Leites to hit him. Leites kept his composure, despite the boos coming from the rafters. As the round closed, Silva tried to push the action, but Leites stayed out of range of any serious incoming fire.

Pushing forward with more urgency, Silva came out fast in the third round, looking to make something happen. Leites landed with two right hands, but then fell to the mat after an apparent poke in the eye. After a standup from referee Yves Lavigne, Leites shot for a takedown but was rebuffed. Leites remained on the mat until Lavigne stood him up, and Silva went back on the attack. On a couple of occasions, Leites fell to the canvas to avoid the incoming attacks, and it looked like just a matter of time until Silva finished things.

Silva started attacking Leites lead left leg in round four, and he started showboating as he chased after Leites, who appeared to be just trying to survive at this point in the fight. Even Leites’ takedown attempts were half-hearted and easily tossed aside by Silva, and as the seconds ticked away, the bout was getting more bizarre as Silva tried to taunt Leites into some sort of offense.

With five minutes left to make his run for the belt, Leites finally started attacking Silva in the final round, getting his nose bloodied as he tried for a fight-saving submission. Silva easily eluded any danger and got in a few punches to the face before rising, and the fans let the fighters know that they weren’t too happy with what they were seeing, even starting a chant of “GSP” for Canada’s favorite son. As for the rest of the action in the round, there was little, if any, of it, making the final verdict and Silva’s entrance into the UFC record books a mere formality.

With the win, the 34-year old Silva improves to 24-4; Leites falls to 14-2.

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