“Crippler” Chris Leben (20-6-0) hit the wall that many people in the middleweight division had hit before and its name was Anderson Silva.
Before Leben faced Silva, he was on a 6-fight win streak with 4 of the 5 wins coming by submission or TKO. After the loss to then UFC newcomer Anderson Silva Leben entered a phase of his career where he accrued the majority of his losses. Touting a record of 20-6 four of his losses have come since the Silva fight.
After fighting Michael Bisping, Leben was suspended for a year after testing positive for steroids. After returning to a loss against Jake Rosholt, we’ve seen a revitalized Chris Leben in the octagon.
In two fights we’ve seen a new Leben laced with large parts of the old Leben. The brawler style that everyone has come to love has not gone away, but the maturity of being a well rounded fighter and using a game-plan has enhanced a fighter with a granite chin and a mean left hook.
I was able to see him avenge his Silva loss when he fought Jay Silva in January in Fairfax VA. In this fight we saw Chris Leben methodically beat Jay Silva on the ground for three rounds straight. He left no doubt in the judges mind, the winner of that fight.
This past weekend he rewarded many fans who have followed him since his stint on the first season of the Ultimate Fighter by giving us a large dose of vintage Chris Leben. After the fight he stated that his plan was to stay away from “A-Train” Aaron Simpson’s (7-1-0) wrestling and to try and pick up the pace in the second and third rounds. He was able to stay out of trouble on the ground, and push the stand-up game to pace Simpson couldn’t keep up with, resulting in a TKO for Chris Leben.
Leben has 26 fights under his belt and is only 29. He’s a veteran in the sport and very much so inside the octagon. I don’t think it’s long before he’ll be involved in match-ups with the top ten in the middleweight division. If Joe Silva is reading this, pray that Wanderlei Silva doesn’t get injured in his upcoming fight with Sexyama, so that he can put Leben against Silva. This fight doesn’t go past the first round guaranteed.
Regardless Chris Leben might just be back. One more win and we might have a situation on our hands