Like many MMA fighters, UFC Middleweight Chris Leben began wrestling in high school, but since Leben was enamored by the UFC at this point in his life, he began taking boxing lessons as well. On day Leben went to his visit his brother at work and noticed that Team Quest was right across the street. Before long, Leben was invited to train at Team Quest alongside some of the best fighters in the world. Most notably UFC Heavyweight Champion and future UFC Hall Of Famer Randy Couture. After some time training, Leben began taking amateur fights, and before he knew it he was 5-0.
Leben had his first professional fight in November of 2002 in Washington. Leben made quick work of his opponent by submitting him in the first round via guillotine choke, and at this point Leben knew he was meant to be a fighter. He only fought one time in 2002, but Leben really started gaining momentum in 2003. By the time the year was over, Leben had put together 5 more wins. Not only did he pick up his first of many knockout wins, but he was able to get a pair of submission wins as well. One of the wins took place at WEC 8, and after he picked up another knockout win he was invited to fight for the inaugural WEC Middleweight Title.
At WEC 9, Leben took on another future UFC star named Mike Swick. The two would go back and forth in the first round, but early in the second round he would get the knockout win and the inaugural WEC title. Leben then took a last minute fight just over two weeks later and picked up another KO win in the first round. In April of 2004 he would take on Justin Davis, and pick up his third first round knockout in a row. Almost a month later, Leben would take on another future UFC fighter named Joe Doerksen, and after a 3 round battle Leben would be handed his first professional loss. Leben got back in the winning column in a back and forth bout with Benji Radach. In the third round Leben landed a hook that would break the jaw of Radach and earn the win.
Leben was then invited to be a part of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, and although he didn’t win the six figure contract, he was invited to be a part of the UFC’s middleweight division. In his octagon debut, Leben was able to finish cast mate Jason Thacker in the first round. Leben would finish the year with 2 more wins over Patrick Cote and Edwin Dewees. 2006 would be one of the busiest years in Leben’s career. Leben picked up a pair of wins over Jorge Rivera and Luigi Fioravanti and was then invited to fight defending Cage Rage middleweight champion Anderson Silva in the main event. Silva was making his UFC debut, and the winner would get a crack at Rich Franklin’s middleweight belt. In under a minute, Silva was able to overwhelm Leben with strikes and hand him his first UFC loss. Leben would finish out the year with a KO win over Jorge Santiago that earned him a knockout of the night bonus, and his second UFC loss to Jason MacDonald.
In 2007, Leben would take on Kalib Starnes at UFC 71 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The bout would earn them both fight of the night bonuses for the back and forth battle, but it was Starnes who would have his hand raised when Bruce Buffer announced the decision. Leben would only fight one more time that year. He took on Terry Martin on the main card at UFC Fight Night 11, and although Martin was able to land some heavy shots that left Leben dazed, Leben was able to land a clean shot on martin and knock him out in the third round. To kick off 2008 Leben fought Alessio Sakara at UFC 82. Half way through the first round he would drop Sakara with a left hand and finish him strikes on the floor.
Leben’s 2008 got ugly in a hurry. Leben was arrested for DUI, and since he was violating terms of his probation from a previous charge. He was sentenced to 35 days in jail, and he wouldn’t get back in the octagon till October. He was tapped to fight Michael Bisping at UFC 89, but it was Bisping who was able to get the decision win over Leben. After the bout, Leben tested positive for performance enhancement drugs, and was suspended for a year. Leben would only fight once in 2009 because of the suspension. He took on Jake Rosholt at UFC 102, but early in the third round Rosholt would cinch up a head an arm triangle and hand him a loss.
2010 was a stellar year for Leben. He would fight three times against Jay Silva, Aaron Simpson and Japanese standout Yoshihiro Akiyama. Leben earned a knockout of the night award for his second round KO of Simpson and he would earn a fight of the night award for his 3rd round submission win over Akiyama. At UFC 125 Leben was set to face former WEC Middleweight Champion Brian Stann. Early in the bout Stann would land a knee and a string of punches and earn him the win. This would be the first time Leben, who was known for having a granite chin, was finished by strikes in a professional fight. In July of 2011, Leben took on former Pride Champion and knockout artist Wanderlei Silva at UFC 132. Less than 30 seconds into the fight, Leben landed a left hook that knocked out Silva cold.
Leben’s 2011 ended even uglier than it started. Leben would take on Marc Munoz at UFC 138 and when the second round ended Leben had a bad cut over his eye. Leben’s corner stopped the fight and Munoz picked up the technical knockout win. After the bout, for the second time in his career Leben failed his post fight drug test and was suspended for a year. He would return to the octagon at UFC 155 against Derek Brunson, and it was Brunson who was able to dictate the pace of the fight and win the decision. In july of 2013 at UFC 162, Leben dropped his third straight fight to another streaking middleweight named Andrew Craig.
Leben is set to face Uriah Hall on the undercard at UFC 168 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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