Third time's a harm

GERRY MODDEJONGE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:46 AM ET

The third time's a charm, but Dean 'The Boogeyman' Lister and Thales Leites are focused on causing harm.

The two middleweights will clash in the three-round main event of tomorrow's Maximum Fighting Championship 23: Unstoppable.

Although it's the third time the two have been pitted against each other on a fight card, it will be the first time they actually make it into the ring against each other.

"We were supposed to fight two times before this," said Lister, who fights out of San Diego, Calif. "Once in Hawaii, the event got cancelled. The second in the UFC and I got injured. Now we're going to fight, so it seems like fate."

Lister's record is 11-6, while his Brazilian opponent, who trains in Rio de Janeiro, is an impressive 14-3.

"Thales Leites less than a year ago was No. 1-ranked in the UFC," said MFC president Mark Pavelich. "He was the only person ever to go five rounds with Anderson Silva."

Considering Lister's well-known mat skills, Leites may prefer to stand toe-to-toe with his opponent tomorrow.

But Leites said he's ready for anything.

"I came to fight and I'm ready for all the situations," said Leites. "I know the guy, he's a very tough fighter -- one of the best in the world. I have a lot of respect for him.

"I know he's extremely dangerous, especially in the ground game."

Although Lister was born in San Diego, he grew up in a military family and lived in different parts of South America. He is rumoured to speak several different languages.

But he will let his fists do the talking tomorrow night.

"I was thinking originally when we signed the fight that he was going to take me down, but I think this is a fight where both of us could try out stand-up skills," said Lister.

"We both favour the ground, but what he said is true: mixed-martial arts is a mixture of all martial arts. Stand-up is one of those things."

However the fight turns out, Pavelich said it's one of the most international and interesting main events he's signed.

"Dean Lister is (a previous) Abu Dhabi champion, numerous times fought all over the world and now he's signed exclusively with the Maximum Fighting Championship," Pavelich said.

Although there is no title on the line per se, all eyes are on the MFC's vacant middleweight title. A trio of tomorrow's fights, including the main event, will no doubt have implications on contenders.

And this main event has been a long time coming for Leites and Lister.

"The first time I had no idea who (Leites) was, it was like 2001. I heard he was tough, but I didn't know," Lister said, adding that entire event ended up getting cancelled. "The second time was in the UFC, and actually that was a big fubar."

Lister's manager signed him up for the fight a year ago despite a knee injury that further postponed the meeting.

"It sounds almost unbelievable that I didn't know I was supposed to fight Thales," Lister said. "I had to pull out of that. I never signed anything, though.

"He's been looking to fight me for a while, so that's cool. I don't want to disappoint."

GERRY.MODDEJONGE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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