Veteran UFC star Chris Leben has officially announced his retirement from the sport at the age of 33.
The writing had appeared to be on the wall for Leben after his defeat to Uriah Hall last month which saw him quit on his stool after enduring a tough first round that resulted in him being dropped before being saved by the bell.
In the past we’ve seen Leben take an inhuman amount of punishment and still keep fighting, but on this occasion he appeared to have a moment of genuine clarity, appearing to decide then and there that it was time to retire.
Even after the heat of the moment had passed, Leben still felt that hanging up his gloves was the right call to make.
“the more I sit back and reflect, this is the right decision to make,” Leben told Ariel Helwani on yesterday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “It’s time to move on and make that next step.”
It seems like a good choice. Leben has been involved in some remarkable wars over the years which has won him many fans across the world and multiple bonuses for ‘Fight Of The Night’ and ‘Knockout Of The Night’, but those kind of fights take their toll and it’s not wise to overstay your welcome.
Leben’s loss to Hall was his fourth in a row and in hindsight he feels that it was now time to step aside for the next generation of fighters who are making their mark in the sport.
“These guys now, they are just a different breed of athlete than I am,” a humble Leben acknowledged.
‘The Crippler’ first rose to prominence as a cast member on the very first season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ in 2005, and quickly became the first ever TUF house hellraiser, getting drunk and becoming embroiled in heated confrontations with other castmembers, smashing doors and windows and playing pranks on them.
Despite his antics, Leben’s quieter moments in the house showed him to have a more sensitive, introspective side, appearing to be tortured by demons from his youth, and that ended up endearing him to many fans.
When he was invited to compete in the UFC after the show was over he quickly proved that he could fight too, racking up five victories in a row against the likes of Patrick Cote and Jorge Rivera.
It took the debut of a certain Anderson Silva to end Leben’s unbeaten run and from then on Leben would enjoy mixed fortunes in the UFC, consistently putting on exciting, hard-hitting fights, but often trading wins and losses in equal measure.
That’s left him with a 12-10 record in the UFC, and a 22-11 tally overall as a professional.
Leben’s demons came back to haunt him at times – he served lengthy suspensions after testing positive for banned substances twice during his UFC tenure, while also being arrested on DUI charges twice and serving time in prison – but despite it all he still remained a fan favorite and someone who many in the industry, including his boss, Dana White sincerely wish the best for as he moves on to the next stage in his life.
“I really am happy, and I think that’s the biggest thing,” Leben says. “I just don’t have that mean streak anymore like I used to. I really am in a good place. I’m happy with my life. I have a good life. I’m not angry at anybody, so yeah, pretty amazing, but I definitely turned things around. [My wife and I have] been continuing to walk down the right road, She’s kind of like my 401k. I’ve got her in law school down here in San Diego, so only the brightest is in the future for us.”