Respect is the name of the game for Chris Leben at UFC 125. On fight night in Las Vegas, he’ll step in the Octagon with a guy who’s done more than his share of fighting.
At the pre-fight press conference in the MGM Grand Lobby, Leben spoke about fighting a man who has seen real combat outside of a sanctioned body. Showing respect for his pending foe, Leben commended Stann, a former U.S. Marine, for fighting a different fight.
“Definitely, I want to go on record and commend him for everything he’s done for our country,” Leben said. “I think it’s an honor to get in there and fight him. He’s been doing good, he’s a tough kid.”
The reasonable mixed martial arts fan can come to a conclusion about fighting: experiences in real world conflict are several times scarier than what one can imagine in the Octagon. There are ringside physicians on-hand at every UFC card; the same can’t be said about a trench in Afghanistan or a dune in Iraq. Instead of punches, kicks, and joint locks; it’s bullets, grenades, and bombs.
Everything that Stann has seen in combat makes for great preparation when heading into fight night because of the ability to handle the mental and physical stress it takes to be a soldier, sailor, airman, or marine. According to Stann, whatever experience Leben has collected in the fight game will not outweigh the experience Stann has received outside of it.
“He’s got more fights in the UFC than I’ve got fights overall,” Stann said about Leben. “I’ll take my experiences in life over his fights any day. The mental agility, mental stress, and adversity that I’ve had to overcome overseas will play a factor in this fight.”
Despite Stann’s opinion of Leben’s experience, “The Crippler” is primed for his UFC 125 bout with the former marine because of the potential for excitement. Style versus style, Leben feels the match-up will make a fun night for the fans. According to him, his track record is more than enough to nearly guarantee it.
“Brian Stann is an excellent fighter,” said Leben “I like his style and I think our styles are going to match up nicely. My fights are generally exciting fights; at least I’d like to think so.”
A month after Leben and Stann’s pending fight became news, there was more press circulating about Leben. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best publicity he’s ever gotten. Leben was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence on Oct. 19 in Honolulu. The arrest was his second alcohol related offense.
Since that time, Leben has been working to reconstruct his image in a way that is more positive. Out of the Octagon, he believes his transformation is apparent, and those that spend the most time with him can confirm that.
Mistakes have been made by everybody, and Leben knows it. He even gave an example of someone who has made a similar bad call, but ultimately achieved the climb to the top of the ladder.
“I’m working hard in and out of the cage, and anybody that is around me knows I’m a far different person than one I was five years ago.” he said. “Do people make mistakes? (former U.S. president) George Bush got a DUI!”