by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
Chris Leben fought just two weeks ago but didn’t hesitate to accept a bout with Yoshihiro Akiyama on short notice when Wanderlei Silva was forced out of the match due to injury.
Akiyama wasn’t thrilled that Chris Leben was named as his UFC 116 replacement, let down that he wasn’t getting the opportunity to face the legend Silva, but Leben gave the Japanese fighter the fight of his life in the UFC 116 co-main event, winning by submission in the waning moments of what turned out to be a war.
The opening round was competitive with Akiyama using trip takedowns to give him the early edge.
The second round was and epic display of granite chins as the two slugged it out, toe-to-toe. At one point Leben appeared to be out on his feet, but in classic Chris Leben fashion he quickly recovered and finished the round strong.
After a mutual display of respect to begin the final stanza, Akiyama wasted no time getting the fight to the ground, briefly mounting “The Ultimate Fighter” season one alumnus. Leben worked his way back to full guard and applied a triangle choke in the closing moments. With 20 seconds remaining on the clock, Akiyama was forced to tap to the submission.
Following the fight, Leben called out the man he replaced, Wanderlei Silva.
“I want Wanderlei,” said Leben following the fight. “Wanderlei was supposed to have this fight. I want him next.
“I’ll take you out too Wanderlei.”
In his in-Octagon post-fight interview, Joe Rogan said Leben had to be happy with the submission win over the “highly respected ground fighter.” Leben responded, “I’m a highly respected fighter as well. If it’s on my feet, if it’s on the ground – When I get in here I get the job done.”
Chris Leben and Yoshihiro Akiyama earned a $75,000 Fight of the Night bonus check for their UFC 116 performance.