Chris Leben has been in the UFC a long time.
In the 8 years that he’s been with the promotion (class of TUF 2005) the 32 year old fighter has amassed a record of 12 & 8, with most of his wins (9) coming by way of stoppage. Of his 8 losses only 3 have been by decision. In total out of his 20 UFC fights 14 of them have seen “The Crippler” either be the hammer or the nail.
His warrior spirit has made him a fan favorite and his willingness to take a short notice fight and help out the promotion, as he did in 2010 against Yoshihiro Akiyama and in what turned out to be an awesome fight and submission victory for Leben, did not go un-noticed by UFC president Dana White. Post the fight White had nothing but glowing statements about Chris, the win, his performance, turnaround time (14 days) and what he had done / was doing for the UFC. Those were heady days for Leben, to say the least.
However and since that night, Leben seems to have lost his steam. Going 1 & 3 over his last four fights and currently sustaining a 2 fight losing streak, The Crippler needs to rack up a win in his upcoming bout on July 6th (UFC 162) in Las Vegas.
Facing him in the cage that night will be Andrew “Highlight” Craig. Craig is a 27 year old BJJ fighter with stand-up and coming off of a loss. He has a total of 9 professional fights (2&1 in the UFC) and is the considerably less experienced fighter. Leben with his 31 professional bouts is the far more advantage fighter in the experience department.
On the line for Chris in this fight could well be his UFC banishment. In an era that finds Dana White looking to trim the rosters and in a business that is very much predicated on the mantra of “what-have-you-done-lately”, a third loss in a row could easily spell his demise with the promotion.
For me, I hope he wins. He’s a banger and a guy who fights with all of his heart and always has. His granite chin, heavy left-hand and walk-forward-and-through-anything-he-runs-into-attitude, is hard not to love. He has worked his way through and out of a number of personal issues and has survived in the UFC for nearly a decade, now. He’s one of those guys that never quits or lies down, in or out of the ring. For all of that, I am picking Chris to win his fight with Andrew Craig. I believe his experience and chin will prove the better of whatever Highlight has to offer.
So, what do you think? Will The Crippler win on July 6th and put wind back into his UFC sails or do you think he will lose to Highlight and be shown the exit sign by Dana?