Chris Leben says drug use was “cry for help”


Chris Leben has spent 14 months thinking about his latest suspension after testing positive for drugs Oxycodone and Oxymorphone. In that last fight, he was stopped by Mark Munoz in the second round. But the loss wasn’t as hard on him as the world that was surrounding him. When he was caught, he didn’t try to lie. Instead, he fessed up and admitted that he was taking illegal drugs. Why? Because he desperately needed help and he wanted the UFC to know it.

“It’s been a long struggle, not just pain medicine, but drug and alcohol abuse, and I’ve had it through my entire career,” Leben said to MMA Fighting. “Some fights I was doing better than other fights. Things came to a head. My last fight was more of a cry for help.”

Yes, Leben knew things were going downhill and the moment it was revealed he tested positive, he expected every ounce of punishment handed down upon him. If it wasn’t for that, he wouldn’t be the changed man he says he is today.

“I knew I was going to get caught,” he continued. “I knew I wasn’t supposed to be doing what I did. Thank God for (UFC matchmaker) Joe Silva and (UFC President) Dana White. They helped me. I broke the rules. They suspended me for one year. It’s not like I was trying to cheat. I had a problem and an issue. They sent me to rehab. I needed a month of inpatient rehab, and went directly to outpatient treatment. I’ve continued to focus on my treatment. That’s a continual battle in that fight. I take it one day at a time. I haven’t taken a pain pill since. I’ve continued to be drug and alcohol free.”

On Saturday, Leben will begin his road to recovery and redemption against Derek Brunson at UFC 155. A victory is something that Leben doesn’t just want, he desperately needs it.

“I haven’t had a payday in a year. I’m broke. This fight marks a transition. Dec. 29 is the end of a rough year for me. I’ve got a lot of new things going on. Financially, I can become stable a little bit, so this is a very big transition. I really want to do well. I’d like to get that KO bonus. I’m shooting for it, but I need to get a victory, get the money in the bank, and make the most of my career for the next few years.”

  • Win lose or draw Leben has always left everything in the ring. Hope he can rid himself of his demons and become the fighter he has the potential to be.

    • Drugs are a tough battle, I hope he can turn it around.

  • Chris Leben and Josh Koscheck started out at the same time on TUF…Josh Koscheck is swimming in money now..i just hope Leben can leave the sport as Dana said with some decent money. He definetly deserves it from all he has given in the octagon.

    • @ enjoy

      What's Chris likely to bank of this, do you know? And does he still own his gym?

      As to Koscheck being rich, he earned it. He's a powerful wrestler with a decent pedigree, whose evolved more than enough to hang within a very tough division. Chris, as much as I like him, is a journeyman fighter. He doesn't excel at one thing and you need that in The UFC, these days.

      I too, hope Chris makes some money before he retires. For the most part he's been a good company man and he's always been a tough freaking guy. He's been in some slug fests, man. I'll be pulling for him to win and to get some bonus money. KO of the night could be tough with JDS / Cain on the card.

      • He recieved $46,000 for his loss against Munoz so I would say he will probably get around $50k plus any bonuses if he wins.

        I'm not sure what he will get offered for his next fight though because he is not headlining

        • @ Enjoy


          • @MMA Truth….Chris leben has his own gym…one of his slogans of his gym is "If you don’t move your head, your opponent will move it for you". Its in honolulu.

      • I like Chris and I dont care about PED's after reading all the post on this thread not one person has brought up his positive PED's tests that he has failed, I guess if you exciting and knock people out people dont care if you juice, you cant click on one Sonnen, thread without 20 percent of the post being about him cheating with PED's

  • I'm sorry to say that Chris has little or no chance of turning his life around. Remember how he was in the house with alcohol? This drug problem isn't new for him. He has been misusing drugs and/or alcohol for a long time and prior to that he was developing the personality that required that "support". He was entertaining to watch but I'm sorry to say he will end up dead or in jail.

    • Got to say brother that is a little harsh, especially at this time of year.
      I think we all realise he is a good guy but just doesn't look after himself that great mentally.

      If he gets a couple of good wins he could change his life but this is one of the worst career's to be in if you are unstable, very few jobs compare with the depression and self-pity that MMA brings with a loss.

    • @ Michael stephesen….I pray this never happens to Leben.He is a talented guy that can be succesful in the future if he gets in the right mindset…not necessarily in the octagon but building his gym when he is done fighting.

    • @ Michael.

      Ouch! Have some faith. Lots of people have shaken of that pharmaceutical monkey. As much as anything I blame the F###ING doctors who proscribe this crap to anyone who walks in the door, all to be either abused or stolen and used by someone other than the intended "patient" and the drug companies who know they are making way more pills, than there is demand. Not to mention the advertising companies that push this crap 24 hours a day.

      No, Chris in no alone in a boat of his own making. He's had lots of help from doctors, drug companies, advertisers and a blahze attitude from our governments who take money form drug companies.

      I truly wonder how many house wives, for example, are driving their kids around everyday whacked out on the legal drugs proscribed to them, for whatever imaginary problem the doctor and a TV commercial could identify.

      For what it's worth, Joe Rogan has even ranted about all this stuff on his podcast.

      I personally wish the best for him and hope he turns it around. I don't think he has it in him to ever be champ, but then again, I don't know that he doesn't have the ability to kick this and avoid death or jail. Let's have some faith, Michael; 'tiz the season for it.

      • In my practice I see 10 guys who can't get off of drugs for every 1 who does. Even that is optimistic. Despite the popularity of the convenient blame-the-doctor attitude out there I know only a few doctors who are happily pushing the stuff. I know many more fighting with the patients over the doctor's attempt to stop the drugs.

        We are at a much bigger risk of complaints to our disciplinary body over our "cruel" attempts to wean people off the drugs given them in the ER or on the street.

        As for Joe Rogan – I like him a lot as an MMA color analyst. I think he is the best out there (as opposed to Goldie) His opinions on drugs, however, are colored by his rationalizations of his own drug use. I know that notion will get no traction on this site but everything he says on the topic is to justify his own recreational use.

        • @Michael Stephensen……

          I think you are missing the point here….Joe Rogan needs to be on the 10th Planet before he trains in Jujitsu, Thats the reason he is smoking all the weed before training. How can you expect Joe Rogan to go through a jujitsu session without marijuana? I think you are being a bit unfair to Rogan.

        • @ Michael

          Rogan doesn't need to rationalize his drug use, nor is he trying to.

          • @MMA Truth…..I think Rogan is rationalising his drug use stemming from all the anti-marijuana debates. Joe is using pot for recreational use which is alot different from medicinal purposes. Joe cant argue that you should be allowed to smoke pot recreationally just because it is approved for medical purposes. However he can argue that Alcohol is a drug therefore marijuana is no different and should be allowed in moderate consumption. Do we extend consumption to poppy plants, cocae leaves. Should these be allowed as well. Personally I don't have any predjudice on people smoking if thats what they want to do and enjoy doing it.
            And if it helps cancer patients with pain, relieve stress then I am all for it because all pharmaceuitcals have side effects anyway. But Rogan is definetly the posterboy for pot.

          • @ Enjoy

            Yes, he's using it for recreational use. So do many. To be more specific, so "did" many who are currently in power or have been in power. Bush, Clinton, Obama…to name three. Yet, regular citizen who smoke for any reason medical or recreational are criminals and should suffer some stigma? Not people can put that where the sun doesn't shine.

            Enjoy – the United States military protect opium crops in Afghanistan, all on the premise that the "have to". That they can't cut it down for the people live off the income. On this one subject the US govt. cares what the Afghan people think and don't want to piss them off.

            I smell not only a lot of hypocrisy, here, but also a rat. Remember Iran / Contra and the US govt. importing coke into America?

            Wake up and smell the coffee. We have the drug laws that we have, because we have private-for-profit prisons, which are making billions in profits for locking up dug users. Concordantly, "someone" is making a lot of money of the trade of "illegal" drugs.

            I too, am not for the use of any hard drugs. I am not advocating their use. Particularly prescription medicines. Which is problem no one wants to talk about, because once again, corporate America is making too much money off of it.

            I am, however, advocating for a delineation between hard and soft drugs and the legalization of the latter. If a man or woman is allowed to have a "cold one" after a days work, then I see no reason why Rogan or anyone, can't have a smoke. That is not a rationalization. It is a political stance.

            To anyone who consumes liquor, beer, wine or prescription meds of any kind, on this issue, I say F##K OFF! You're a hypocrite.

  • Hope he does well, he's a nice guy.

    Unfortunately it's widely said that he is in a bad spot, people near to him are taking advantage of him and his position and ripping him off financially.

    All the insiders are saying everything is going wrong for him, except for injuries, in this camp. Hopefully he can still come out in good shape fight night

    • @ Keith…whats been going wrong with Leben in the leaadup? I thought he was doing well post rehab?

      • I'm not sure specifically but I heard a couple of times, notably on The MMA Beat (find on youtube, think its the latest episode) and a few of the guys said that Leben was having a bad camp.

    • I hope you are wrong Keith.

  • @Michael Stephesen-some faith you have! Im gonna go a limb here and say that you are not great at pep talks bud! the thing about Leben that people forget is that he always brings it,he comes fight,to trade&bang,to brawl,not to lay and pray,people want to see that,most of Chris's fights are total wars,he loves that,hopefully he can turn things around inside the octago starting on Sat,he already is turning things around outside the octagon,keep it up Chris,Waaaaaaaarrrrrr Cripplerrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!

  • Leben never should have been in the UFC in the first place. At the time that he got his contract there was plenty of fighters out there that where better than him. He got the contract not because of his fighting skills but because of his TUF antics. He was the start of the freak show the ufc is turning in to. Lesnar, Kimbo, Sonnen trash-talking his way to the Jones fight. It's all about the enterteinment now a days. Not about who's the best fighter in the world. I miss the good old days, when fighters first became great fighters and then thru that fame became a celebraty. Now they want celebratys to become fighters.

    • you are a fucking retard

      • Why? What of what I wrote above isn't the truth? I am a trainer. I would like the guys and girls that I train to get a shot at fighting in the ufc because of who, and how many they win. I can teach them to fight. I can't teach them to be entertaining. I can't teach them to be a-holes like Sonnen or shmucks like Leben. Should I tell them at the gym they need to work on their mediapersonas to become a champ one day?? No, it should be about who gets his/her hand raised after the fight. It shouldn't cater the needs of ignorant fans who want to see entertainment. Most fans today don't know shit about mma, most of them haven't trained ones in their life. That's the ppl who tune in because of the spectacle, not because of admiration of the fighters and what they do in the octagon.

        • You might be a trainer, but your opinion isn't based in reality.

          Leben got a shot in the UFC after the Ultimate fighter because he was 10-1 with KO wins over a UFC veteran (Benji Radach), and Mike Swick. In a time period when MMA wasn't evevn half way close to the media reach it owns today.

          Leben might be a dumbass, alcoholic, attention whore. But he can scrap. And back then he could compete with most in the world strictly on his chin, and power alone. He might lose every once in a while, but he wins a good amount too (considering he's 12-7 inside the UFC).

          Besides, if there were so many fighters out there that should have gotten a shot instead of him that'd be news to me. Considering the most talented guys of that generation went on to PRIDE, The UFC, and jail.

          • I must admit your right to some degree. Leben has a good chin, he can scrap. But he lost in the tuf, and only got a second chance because of his antics. You make valid points in your argument, but I still say the way ufc is run today is far from the original idea; Who are the best fighters in the world. Now it is; who can make the most money for the ufc, and I don't like it one bit. If mma is to be considered a legit sport, even make it to the olympics one day, it has to change.