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.
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