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Brad Tavares made easy work of Thales Leites, battering the Brazilian with a steady left jab and a vicious right kick.

Tavares (14-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) took a unanimous decision from Leites (27-8 MMA, 12-7 UFC), more than doubling up on him in total strikes. The Las Vegas resident cruised with a pair of 30-26 scores and a 30-27.

The middleweight bout opened up the preliminary card of today’s UFC 216 event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It streamed on UFC Fight Pass ahead of additional prelims on FX and a main card on pay-per-view.

Tavares landed first with a stiff left, then pumped it out a couple more times. Leites countered with some low kicks to Tavares’ lead leg. Tavares kept working his jab, but Leites did well landing right hand counters. But about the halfway point, Tavares landed a brutal left hand that wobbled Leites. When Leites tried to recover, Tavares tried a jumping knee and forced Leites to shoot in for a takedown. Tavares stayed upright, though, and did so again not long after when Leites wanted to drag the fight to the canvas with a minute left. With 10 seconds left, Tavares landed big with a right hand and again tried a jumping knee, but Leites made it to the second.

Tavares worked a leg kick early in the second, then again hurt Leites with another jab. The left jab continued to find a home for him in the first minute of the round, leaving Leites bloodied up. Leites kicked high a couple minutes in, but Tavares blocked it. Leg kicks were there for Leites, but Tavares’ seemed to be doing more damage, and with 2:20 left Leites finally got a takedown. But Tavares quickly was back up and reversed position and pushed Leites to the fence. Leites tried to jump guard, but Tavares pulled away. With a minute left, Tavares landed another heavy kick to Leites’ left leg. With 30 seconds left, Leites landed a solid left, but it wasn’t enough to put Tavares in trouble.

Tavares continued to bloody Leites up in the final round, and then went after his lead leg some more. He stumbled him a cuople times from the leg kicks until finally one of them took Leites’ feet out and made him hit the canvas with three minutes left. Leites wanted him down on the ground, but Tavares wisely had no interest in that. He attacked the lead leg seconds late and again knocked him down. When Leites got back to his feet, his face and chest were a bloody mess, and he pushed in for a takedown attempt. But Tavares easily stayed on his feet, and with 40 seconds referee Chris Tognoni made them split up. Tavares knocked him down with a kick once more and kept Leites on his back the rest of the fight.

Tavares has won three straight fights and four of his past five overall. Leites heads back to the loss column and has dropped two of his past three and four of his past six overall.

Up-to-the-minute UFC 216 results include:

  • Brad Tavares def. Thales Leites via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)

For complete coverage of UFC 216, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

(MMAjunkie’s John Morgan and Simon Samano contributed to this report on site in Las Vegas.)

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