UFC Tough Guy Chris Leben Retires, Plans Move into Coaching

January 20, 2014
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UFC138_MunozLeben_004Chris Leben, one of the originals from the first season of The Ultimate Fighter and a nearly nine-year UFC veteran, has decided to hang up his gloves for the final time.

Following his last fight, a first-round TKO loss to Uriah Hall at UFC 168 on Dec. 28, Leben tweeted, “Time to start a new chapter in my life. I’ve landed the most strikes in the UFC. It was a good run. Wouldn’t change a thing.”

At the time, his trainer, Eric Del Fierro, told MMAWeekly.com that Leben remained undecided about his future, not yet ready to announce his retirement. Following a tweet on Sunday announcing that he is likely to become a team coach and instructor at Victory MMA and Fitness in San Diego, however, Leben announced on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that he doesn’t intend to fight again.

“I’ve got a lot of years ahead of me,” he said. “I’d like to still have my head on my shoulders and have a brain when I’m raising kids and doing all the other stuff that I want to be part of. I think it might be time for me to gracefully bow out.”

Leben was 10-1 when he joined the inaugural cast of The Ultimate Fighter. He went on amass a record of 12-10 in the Octagon, building a reputation for being a tough fighter that never backed down, and was willing to go toe-to-toe with whomever he fought.

He had been nearing a middleweight title shot midway through 2006, but became the first UFC victim of Anderson Silva. From then on, Leben primarily became a journeyman that consistently had fans excited to watch him fight.

Leben famously defeated Aaron Simpson and Yoshihiro Akiyama with just two weeks between fights. He knocked out Simpson and then agreed to step in for an injured Wanderlei Silva two weeks later, submitting Akiyama.

“I’ve had just a wonderful career,” he said on The MMA Hour. “I didn’t start fighting until I was 21 years old. Back then you could actually get into the UFC, win and do well just on being a tough guy. I was a tough guy.

“[But] the game has been evolving and changing so much, so rapidly, that I’m actually pretty happy that I can say I was in it for as long as I was in it.”

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  • Chicago

    good for chris. he seems happy.

  • OneFansOpinion

    Good timing. Thanks for all the great battles Grippler!

  • metoo

    Very entertaining fighter. Always remember him on the first tuf sitting around saying him and forrest are the toughest guys there. Funny thing is everyone was kinda scared of him cause he broke swicks jaw and had some wins before the show. Take it easy cat smasher.

  • George Sperry

    A true warrior that has made a wise decision. His fighting style, while exciting is one that leads to permanent damage.
    Thanks for the memories Chris.

  • R

    At the beginning I despised him. After he quit drinking, he got really good though, so I started to like him. He ended his career as one of my favorite fighters. Well done Chris, your place in mma history is secure.

  • Stephen Quadros

    Got caught cheating twice

    • Brent


  • El Gvapo

    Great career, always came to fight. I’d say the akiyama fight was his crowning glory. Well done Chris and thanks for your contribution to the sport.

  • Luisknowsbest

    I always looked forward to a Leben fight. The man went for the finish everytime . Enjoy the retirement , but we know a fighter never stays retired. He will be back.

  • bajafox

    That gym is right next to my old job. It’s a good gym and Dean Lister (sp?) also coaches there

  • The Best Eva

    Good call, less headshots in coaching.