Chris “The Crippler” Leben began his fighting career in November of 1992 at the UFCF: Everett Extreme Challenge 6. He had fought 11 times amassing a record of 10-1 when he joined the cast of The Ultimate Fighter’s first season. Prior to the Ultimate Fighter, Leben defeated Mike “Quick” Swick to win the inaugural WEC Middleweight championship. Leben later vacated the title without defending in order to participate in The Ultimate Fighter. Chris suffered only one professional loss in his first 16 fights, a May 2004 decision loss to Joe Doerksen at Freestyle Fighting Championships 9.
Post TUF, Leben went on a five-fight tear in the UFC defeating Jason Thacker, Patrick Cote, Edwin Dewees, Jorge Rivera and Luigi Fioravanti. In his sixth UFC Fight, the heavy favorite Leben ran smack into the current king of the middleweight division, Anderson Silva. After being decimated in under a minute of the opening bell, Leben rebounded in his next fight with a second-round KO of Jorge Santiago. From there he took a two-fight slide, being submitted by Jason MacDonald and dropping a close decision in a Fight of the Night performance against Kalib Starnes. Leben then scored back-to-back Knockout of the Night awards with his finishes of Terry Martin and Alessio Sakara.
Leben’s next fight was a unanimous decision loss to Michael Bisping. It was also his first suspension for failing his post-fight urinalysis. Stanozolol was found in his urine. He admitted to taking the steroid but said that it was months previous and he thought it would be out of his system. He served a nine-month suspension and forfeited a third of his purse for the fight. When he returned at UFC 102, he was submitted by Jake Rosholt in his hometown of Portland, O.R. As a result of refusing to tap, Leben went unconscious due to Rosholt’s arm-triangle choke. Leben returned to his winning ways in 2010 with victories over Jay Silva, Aaron Simpson and Yoshihiro Akiyama; the Simpson victory yielded a Knockout of the Night bonus and the Akiyama victory earned Fight of the Night honors; both fights occurred within two weeks of each other.
On New Year’s Day 2011, Leben suffered a TKO loss at the hands and knees of Brian Stann. He rebounded with a 27-second knockout of Wanderlei Silva at UFC 132 in July. After the Wanderlei fight, Leben was pitted against Mark Munoz in the first five-round non-title main event in UFC history. His corner stopped the fight between the second and third round and Leben later tested dirty for the second time in his post-fight medicals, this time for Oxycodone. Leben served a one-year suspension and returned in December of 2012 to drop a lackluster decision to Derek Brunson in his UFC debut. Leben will likely be fighting for his job when he meets Andrew Craig on July 6 at UFC 162.
Photo credit: Gary A. Vasquez – USA Today Sports