Chris Leben’s MMA Return Nixed Due to Severe Heart Condition

March 8, 2016

A UFC veteran and cast member of the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter, Chris “the Crippler” Leben‘s return to fighting has been nixed following the discovery that he has a severe heart condition.

Leben has a condition that has limited the blood flow through his heart to what is estimated at roughly 18-percent of what is considered normal. Bellator on Tuesday confirmed the news to MMAWeekly.com, which was first reported by Swedish website MMANYTT.

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A prepared statement explained Leben’s current health situation:

Chris-Leben-UFC-162-weigh 750“In early February of this year, UFC veteran Chris ‘The Crippler/ Leben announced he was coming out of retirement to compete for Bellator MMA. As part of the signing process, and in preparation for a potential spring match-up, Leben underwent a battery of medical tests. Unfortunately, these test have revealed a serious condition in his heart. As a result, the slugger and fan favorite will likely never compete again.

“Concerns were first raised when Leben failed several EKG tests during his physical examinations. He was then directed to take an echocardiogram, a sonogram of the heart. This analysis showed a life-threatening abnormality. The left ventricle of his heart is oversized, misshapen and is not operating properly. Doctors estimate that the blood flow through is heart is only 18% of what is considered normal.

“Doctors immediately prescribed a combination of drugs, which they hope will prevent a catastrophic cardiac event. As of now, the prognosis is mixed: one doctor believes that he should be considered for a heart transplant, while another doctor hopes that medication and a healthy lifestyle will reverse some of the damage over time.

“Doctors suspect that this serious ailment is due in large part to the fighter’s notorious hard living. Leben has suffered from extreme opiate addiction, alcoholism, and medical and psychological issues throughout his life. His recently released autobiography, The Crippler: Cage Fighting and My Life on the Edge, details the acute challenges that he has faced both inside and outside of the cage.”

Currently, it appears likely that Leben will never set foot in the cage again. While it is a blow to Bellator’s roster of recent signings, it is obviously a much more serious issue for Leben, who has reportedly been struggling to make ends meet since he ended his fighting career.

“We are saddened to hear of Chris Leben’s current health situation, and would have loved to see him compete inside the Bellator cage,” Bellator President Scott Coker told MMAWeekly.com. “A fighter’s health and safety is of the utmost importance to us as an organization. We wish Chris the best in his future endeavors and we are happy to help provide a platform for him to share his story with people around the world.”

In the statement released by his camp, Leben urged those wishing to support him during this health scare to consider purchasing a signed copy of his autobiography at his online store https://chrisleben.ecwid.com.

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