Chris Leben is happy in his retirement, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be coaxed out of it if the money was right.

the 40-year-old had actually intended to hang up the gloves after his five-round war against Dakota Cochrane at BKFC. However, when the coronavirus pandemic hit, it put a pause on his plans to open up a new gym and gave BKFC matchmaker Nate Shook an idea.

“The Dakota Cochrane fight, there was a lot of things in the build up to that fight that didn’t work out well for me. The weight cut and everything else,” Leben explained when speaking to MMA Fighting. “Nonetheless, the fight was a five-round war. Obviously, the judges had it going the other way but for me, I was actually happy that I went out on a bloodbath fight. I fought all five rounds. I was OK, that’s it, I’m done.

“It was really (BKFC matchmaker) Nate Shook was in my ear. He’s like ‘I know all the stuff before the fight that you were going through, you should go out on a win.’”

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Despite finishing his MMA career at 22-12 and holding a 3-1 record in bare-knuckle boxing, something about finishing his career off a loss didn’t sit right with Leben.

“I love Nate but being a little bit of a promoter though. I was like yeah, I should go out on a win,” Leben said. “It would be way better to retire with a ‘W’ than an ‘L.’

“I start thinking about it, I’m like I’m healthy with Covid and everything else going on, there’s not a lot I can do in the way of reffing and focusing on opening my gym out here so I’m kind of a landing pattern, more or less, until this vaccination gets out further. So let’s do it. You’re right. I went for it.”

The decision ended up paying dividends, as Leben stopped Quentin Henry in just 67-seconds. Afterwards, he was able to make good on his promise and retire from combat sports for good. He plans to spend the next chapter of his life being a coach and mentor to young up-and-coming fighters, much the same way Robert Follis was to him. But if someone were to offer him a substantial paycheck, perhaps against a certain internet-celebrity-turned-boxer, he wouldn’t say no.

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“Unless I’m fighting Jake Paul or something crazy like that, that’s it. I’m done,” Leben said. “I really don’t have a desire, I don’t have anything to prove. If I did, it’s because somebody wants to pay me a zillion dollars.”

Paul has called out a number of notable MMA stars, and is currently training for a boxing match against Ben Askren. a number of fans have reached out to Leben over social media and suggested he should be the one to silence the YouTube star. While Leben may not like the way Paul has done things, he doesn’t fault him for taking advantage of his opportunities.

“Honestly, a lot of people want to act like they’re true martial artists and they’re pure to the sport and it’s a disgrace. That’s all bulls—,” Chris Leben said. “Listen, they’re bringing a lot of eyes to combat sports. They’re bringing a lot of attention and a lot of focus and that’s good for us. Right now, BKFC is the fastest-growing sport in the world. Combat sports are now in everybody’s home. These combat sports athletes are household names. 10 years ago, that wasn’t the case. People are getting greedy. Don’t act like that.

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“Let’s take it. It makes sense. It makes money. It draws attention. It’s like Conor [McGregor] fighting [Floyd] Mayweather, look that’s a great fight. It was great for MMA. It was great for boxing. Because you had the MMA fans watching the MMA guy, you had MMA guys ordering a boxing pay-per-view. Now all of a sudden you’ve got crossover fans, more embedded in combat sports as a whole. I think there’s no bad about it.”

“Absolutely [I’d fight Jake Paul]. You want to put an extra zero on my paycheck to fight that guy? I just fought Quentin Henry. Yeah, absolutely could fight that guy.”

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