MMA News: Chris Leben Gives an Update on His Status
Chris Leben has spoken at length about his return to the Octagon as his one-year suspension for failing a drug test nears an end.
In an extensive interview with BJPenn.com, Leben announced that he had signed a four-fight deal with the UFC, although he doesn’t know who his next opponent will be yet.
[UFC matchmaker] Joe Silva said I will be on one of the four cards scheduled in December. I’m excited to get back in there. This last year has been a long one. I was able to take a step back and take care of some stuff. Things are going so much better for me now and I’m excited to see what the new and improved Chris Leben is like.
Leben last fought at UFC 138 in November 2011 when he was stopped by Mark Munoz at the end of the second round. Not long after the event, it was revealed that the middleweight fighter had tested positive for various painkillers and he was hit with a one-year suspension.
In subsequent interviews, Leben talked frankly about his drug addiction—a topic he touched on in his latest interview.
For anyone who doesn’t know, I’ve worked really hard on turning my life around. I did a little stint in rehab and since then I’ve focused on my treatment and counseling. I was forced to come face to face with some of these issues that I was battling with. I’ve also given my body a chance to heal. I started getting massages and acupuncture instead of popping a pill to be able to train through the pain. I’ve changed everything in my life around. All I do now is coach, train and run my gym. I’ve been able to deal with the anxiety of everything that happened. My new way of dealing with things is to go to the gym and train until I’m exhausted.
However, the middleweight division that Leben will return to after his suspension is not the same place.
Chael Sonnen, a former training partner of Leben, failed in his second attempt to unseat champion Anderson Silva and has since left the division. In his place, Hector Lombard, Alan Belcher and Chris Weidman have been touted as the next top contenders. As Leben told BJPenn.com:
As far as who’s next, I have been hearing Chris Weidman’s name a lot, and he looks really tough. It’ll be interesting to see what he will look like in a couple of years. He’s already a force to be reckoned with. I saw his fight with Munoz and he looked good, but the ending was hard to watch. The referee stopped that fight way too late.
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