It’s fair to say it’s been a remarkable couple of weeks in the life of Chris Leben.
Two weeks ago at the TUF season 11 finale he defeated highly regarded prospect Aaron Simpson, picking up a $25,000 ‘Knockout Of The Night’ bonus along the way.
Last night after stepping in as a late replacement he went on to submit Yoshihiro Akiyama after a three round war that might go down as one of the year’s best fights. His endeavors earned him another bonus cheque, this time a cool $75,000 for ‘Fight Of The Night.’
“I’m overwhelmed a little bit,” he told the UFC’s official site after the victory, his voice thick with emotion. “So much, so much to go through. If it wasn’t for my team and the people that stood next to me, that didn’t give up on me, I wouldn’t be here. I’m just so grateful.”
Leben once again showed his cast-iron chin when Akiyama appeared to rock him badly in the second round. Where most people would have fallen face-first into the canvas, ‘The Crippler’ somehow kept standing and continued pushing forward even though he almost appeared to be fighting in slow motion for a few minutes until he regained his senses.
At the post-fight press conference Leben chuckled as he confessed that he couldn’t remember much of what had happened in the fight. In fact he was surprised when his corner told him he had won late in the third round as he thought he’d locked in the submission that ended the fight in the second.
What he did remember however was the night before, when he revealed that he, “laid in bed and cried,” because he wanted to win so badly.
Immediately after the bout Leben called out Wanderlei Silva, but thought that’s a fight that has all the makings of another barnburner, Dana White pointed out later that for the time being it won’t be possible since the Brazilian requires knee surgery and will be out of the octagon for quite some time.
Leben is now on a three fight winning streak which is remarkable considering that at the start of the year he was in danger of being cut from the promotion after a two fight slump.
It’s safe to say that after his recent performances and willingness to help the promotion out at short notice that it’ll be a long time before the 29 year-old has to worry about his job security again.