Is this the beginning of the end for Ultimate Fighter almunus, Chris Leben? Tonight, Leben gets yet another chance to redeem himself as he takes on up-and-comer Andrew Craig at UFC 162.
Three years ago, Leben was in a very similar predicament to his current situation. He was riding a two fight losing streak, as he is now, before bouncing back with three impressive wins including a TKO against Aaron Simpson for his first loss and a short-notice fight against Yoshihiro Akiyama for a Submission of the Night/Fight of the Night victory.
It’s well publicized that Chris Leben has had his fair share of personal demons. Right before his last two fight skid, he was arrested for DUI before his loss to Michael Bisping; and if that wasn’t enough drama, he tested positive for banned substances after the fight.
Instead of getting cut from the UFC, the fan favorite was given another opportunity to turn his career and life outside the cage around for good. He seemed to be on the track, too, after his three wins saw a revitalized “Crippler” back in the cage doing what he does best: finishing fights in impressive fashion.
Unfortunately, he soon derailed his career again with another DUI after crashing into a wall, and his next fight performance followed suit. The other wall he crashed into was Brian Stann, who needed only 3:37 to destroy Chris Leben with a striking display that could rival Leben’s best performances.
Even though he bounced back with a brutal knockout of Wanderlei Silva in his next fight, the performance was followed by a TKO loss to Mark Munoz, after which…you guessed it...he tested positive for illegal substances, this time prescription painkillers. Leben was suspended for one year following the failed drug test and went on to face UFC newcomer Derek Brunson at UFC 155, in which Leben lost a lopsided decision to the relatively unknown fighter.
Despite multiple losses, DUI arrests and drug abuse, Chris Leben has another chance to set off fireworks this 4th of July weekend. I’m not talking about Roman candles or sparklers, either, I’m talking about a left hand full of dynamite.
It’s no secret that UFC fortune favors the Ultimate Fighter 1 cast, as many of them have had multiple ups and downs, yet have been allowed to remain in the UFC after losses and/or misconduct. Look at Stephan Bonnar, who’s lost almost as many fights as he’s won in the UFC, and who's also been discplined for PED use on more than one occasion. Yet at UFC 162, he is set to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame along with fellow TUF 1 alum, Forrest Griffin, another fighter with a legacy tarnished by failed drug tests.
Leben is no Hall of Famer, but UFC 162 holds signitficant importance for him and his fighting future. A big win or catastrophic loss may just make or break his career. And, if he fails another post-fight drug screen, then what? After all, how many lives does this cat have?
By: Rodney James