In a grueling three-round light middleweight affair, Rio’s own Thales Leites dominated striking and grappling to earn a well-deserved unanimous decision victory over Tom Watson.

Leites’ superior grappling allowed him to move into back mount and mount throughout the bout, landing strikes and threatening with submissions. Leites suffered an ugly hematoma from a Watson elbow late in the second round. But the Nova União standout came back to out-strike the Briton in round three, then hit a takedown midway through the stanza for more ground-and-pound and a near-finish with an arm triangle.  Watson was bloodied, but was able to finish.

All three judges scored the bout 30-27. Leites improves his MMA record to 21-4 with his sixth UFC victory. Watson, of Southampton, England, falls to 16-6, and is now 1-2 in UFC competition.

Thales Leites defeated Tom Watson by unanimous decision at UFC 163.