Make no mistake, Chris Leben was not meant for our times. Chris Leben is far more than that. He is the remnants of a much older time. Chris Leben is a warrior. Like the Wanderlei Silva‘s, or the Shogun Rua’s of the fighting world, Chris Leben possesses the soul of a warrior.
In todays society, MMA is the equivalent of the human battle field. Men from all ethnicities, backgrounds, colour or race compete inside the octagon to determine which one survives. It is the most primial, almost ritualistic of acts, that has passed down through the ages in different shapes or forms, and I believe Chris Leben is the perfect example of a fighter with the soul of a warrior.
While “The Crippler” may not be as accomplished, as decorated or as polished, or even as skilled as Wanderlei or Shogun, Leben has something special inside. His warrior spirit shows in all of his fights. Leben brings a fight, no matter who you are, or what you’ve done, he will take the centre of the cage and stand to to toe with even the best striker, without a single shred of fear. Never once will he back down. Sure, he may get beat, but you can be sure if he gets knocked down, he will go down swinging for the fences.
Like the warriors of times gone by, Leben needs only his weapons(his deadly fists), his warpaint (his tattoo’s and hair dye), and his attitude. Chris proved so many people wrong when he started on the original Ultimate Fighter. Despite being the last guy asleep and drinking more than anybody else, Leben worked his ass off every morning, most times doing more than anybody else in the house. Despite (twice) being eliminated on the show, Dana White saw something in Chris and kept him around.
Currently his record inside the cage is a very impressive 21-6. His most notable wins are over Jorge Rivera, Patrick Cote, Mike Swick and Allesio Sakara. Leben has only ever once been knocked out cold in his career, against the always impressive Anderson Silva, which is hardly an unforgiveable sin, but just as was at the time expected, despite Silva being superior in almost every way, Leben took the centre of the cage and went toe to toe with the best, and went down swinging.
Even Dana White, no doubt grateful to Leben for taking the fight on short notice, and making it his second fight in a fortnight, is a huge fan. At the post fight press conference, White told reporters:
“Chris Leben was literally knocked out standing straight up, I’ve only seen that a couple of times. Usually when that happens, the guy has to go down. He was knocked out standing up, and in typical Chris Leben fashion, all of a sudden you just saw him snap out of it and start hammering away.”
Proven once again just how big a heart the guy has, Chris caught his opponent, Yoshihiro Akiyama in a triangle hold, in an excellent bout which had seen the first and second round go back in fourth. When he finished the fight, there was 20 or so seconds left, and it was clear Akiyama was dangerously close to grinding out a decision in his favour, but something in a clearly exhausted Leben’s soul gave him just enough power to lock in a triangle, causing his opponent to tap out. This epic 3 round war was awarded Fight of The Night at last night’s UFC 116.
Who ever Chris fights next, you can be sure it will take a viscious beating to keep him down, and you can expect to see Leben walk right into the centre of the cage with whoever he is paired up with next.
Chris Leben truly does posses the Soul of a Warrior.
Pictures: ESPN MMA