Excitement and Fear Lead Chris Leben into UFC 132 Fight with Wanderlei Silva

June 21, 2011
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UFC 132 fighter Chris Leben’s life has been an open book since his time on the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

The former Team Quest member had a rocky time on the reality show, battling his personal demons while also getting into mental and physical wars with housemates like Josh Koscheck and Bobby Southworth. When it was over, Leben may not have expected the kind of response he got, but he instantly became a fan favorite, and has remained in that slot ever since.

Through the years, Leben has had his ups and downs both personally and professionally, but he has always been candid about the mistakes he’s made and what he’s doing to correct them.

His last fight out, Leben faced decorated Marine veteran Brian Stann. While he was the favorite going into the bout, he walked out with a loss on his record. Stann rocked Leben on the feet before finishing him off with a devastating knee strike and punches on the ground.

The loss was devastating to Leben, who had come into the night on a three-fight win streak. Mistakes were made, but Leben, always the reflective fighter, was able to pick out what he did wrong, and admits that he probably took his opponent too lightly that night.

“I’ve had a lot of fights. I should have known better, but I think I just got a little comfortable. I was feeling really good, I had a three-fight win streak, I was feeling good, and I underestimated Brian Stann a little bit,” Leben said on Tuesday.

He also pointed towards his diet, and after a rough weight cut, it didn’t help his cause at all when he met Stann.

“The biggest thing that was affected was my diet,” Leben commented about the Stann fight. “I came in just a little bit too heavy, and I cut too much weight.”

When he headed back to Hawaii when the fight was over, Leben says the loss lingered with him, so much so that he sought out professional help to deal with it.

“A loss is never good. I had to go to counseling about that damn loss,” Leben admitted.

With the last fight finally behind him, Leben can now focus on the task ahead and that’s former Pride champion Wanderlei Silva. A fight with the Brazilian is something Leben has wanted for almost a decade. He’s quick to point out that Silva is one of his heroes, so facing him is exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time.

“There’s nothing more motivating than a loss. I’ve had my ups and downs for sure, with the Brian Stann fight, it left a (expletive) taste in my mouth and I want to go out and get back on the winning side of things, and there’s nothing bigger than a win over Wanderlei, that would be huge,” Leben said.

“I’ll be honest, I’m excited to fight Wanderlei and I’m a little scared at the same time too, but I think for me that’s a very motivating and driving emotion.”

Never one to sit and sulk, Leben has moved past the Stann fight.

“We’ve all had our wins and losses. The bottom line is it’s like that old saying you’ve got to get back up on that horse. This is going to be my 19th fight in the UFC, so I’ve been around for a little while to the point where I’m not necessarily thinking a loss is going to make me perform bad the next time. I don’t lose all my belief in myself or anything like that,” Leben stated.

“Basically, I look back and I go ‘well I messed up.’ What worked well in that fight? What worked in camp? What didn’t work? Then after I analyze that I try to change a few things, and that’s what I’ve done.”

Leben will try to prove that the changes worked when he faces Wanderlei Silva in the co-main event for UFC 132 on July 2.

Damon Martin is the lead staff writer and radio host for MMAWeekly.com.
@DamonMartin on Twitter or e-mail Damon a question or comment.

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  • bdono554


  • wonggfan

    Why are we excited about this fight??

    Leben was never a top fighter. Wandy has been past his prime for years now. So I guess we are not interested in the skill level.

    Dana said, “fans want to see this because these two will be banging each other out.”

    So…he is admitting that at least some viewers want to see bloodbath without talent.

    Educating the ppl about MMA???? LOL! Educate yourself first!! Most people are attracted to MMA because of the violence.

    • streetfightertoo

      Settle down Martha Stuart, this is an MMA website. I think you were looking for American home and gardens website.

  • diazforprez

    If your not excited to watch this fight man you must be Jon Fitch fan. Both of these guy are a little punch drunk and past there primes but should be good slugfest and how doesn’t like a great slugfest. This fight shouldn’t go three rounds somebody getting KO’d I’m kinda pumped for this one.

  • streetfightertoo

    Big Leben Fan. Wanderlei is an O.G. for sure. Fire Fuckin Worxs!!!!

  • afk

    the fact that you AREN’T excited shows how not a fan of the overall sport you are. there are way, way more non-contender determining mma fights than the other…

    and dana does talk a lot about education, but he also says that ‘fighting is in our dna, we get it and we like it.”

    stop bein’ such a granny pants and embrace the reality of the situation.

  • armendo420

    lol the wongfan lol everyone is exited for this fight bcuz they are sick of fighters just hypin fights up to sell tickets by sayin(ya were gunna bang it out and see what happens) but they never do EVER!!! well leben and wandi are gunna bang it out untill someone goes to sleep!!!!!!!!!!! we need fighters like this to keep ppl interested in the sport!!! noone like watchin grey,fitch,bader,or any of those homos that just lay on u on the ground and hold out a decidion!!!!!! we need more fighters that bang cuz i think since dana wanted to take it global the fight game for the ufc has changed!!!!!! ppl dont really fight! they sit on the defence and wait!!!! dont get me wrong ufc is my fav! but if i wanna watch my fav fighters i watch ufc! but if i want to watch an exiting fight i was sf/dream cuz they fight exiting fights they go out and fight they dont hold nutin back they fight ufc has turned to (DADDY DAYCAREISH)

  • omcclave

    IF you want real education ill take you back to the pride days where a great fight outwieghed title or ranking implications. This is the next big hump for american fans to get over. If you lose a fight you dont suck, if you give a terrible performance you suck. I would rather watch leben or wand anyday because they embody the bushido spirit and it is also why no mattet whay people are loyal to them as fans belt or no belt. some of the best fights ever where about spirit not titles. watch royce gracie vs skaraba and tell me that doesnt change the way you precieve mma.

  • wonggfan

    I dunno mang. Not a big fan of watching two punch drunk veterans bang it out.

    I think it is kinda cruel.