Chris Leben carved out quite a UFC career after joining the promotion in 2005 as part of the cast of the very first season of the Ultimate Fighter. After 22 Octagon battles, many of them of the memorable variety, “The Crippler” officially announced his retirement.
The decision seems to come at the perfect time for the 33-year old, who is on the decline and mired in a four-fight losing streak. Unfortunately, the last image of Leben in the Octagon was the sight of a proud warrior sitting on his stool and unable to answer the bell for the second round of his fight at UFC 168 against Uriah Hall. Hall had Leben in big trouble at the end of the opening round after landing some big punches, and the veteran knew he was done and elected to shut it down.
Leben was a fan-friendly competitor who always came to fight, and it produced several Fight Night bonuses. He was involved in a number of exciting back-and-forth scraps in his career. Ones that stand out include a memorable come-from-behind knockout of Terry Martin, a dramatic submission victory at UFC 116 in a war against Yoshihiro Akiyama and a career-best highlight when he destroyed Wanderlei Silva in just 27 seconds at UFC 132.
He won his first five UFC fights before getting knocked out by the legendary Anderson Silva in “The Spider’s” first-ever Octagon appearance. Leben’s final career mark of 22-11 included a 12-10 UFC ledger. He was always known for his heavy hands, iron chin and will. While Leben definitely had some demons that he dealt with during his career, including a pair of drug-related suspensions, he seems to have his life in order at this stage of his life and seems at peace with his decision.
Leben will now focus his attention to the coaching side of the sport and will certainly have a vast wealth of experience and wisdom to pass along in that capacity.
“The Crippler” produced plenty of exciting moments during his UFC career and cemented a reputation as a never-say-die warrior with some of his gutsy displays. While there were plenty of highs and lows along the way and some very bumpy moments, Leben was always a fighter who delivered when it came to entertainment value.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports