Prior to UFC 162, UFC president Dana White made it clear that he did not want to consider what the future might hold for Chris Leben with a loss on Saturday. After Leben dropped a split decision to Andrew Craig, White is left with no choice but to ponder that very question.
The defeat put Leben’s record at 1-4 in his last five fights and extended his losing streak to three straight. Leben’s last win was a 2011 knockout win over Wanderlei Silva.
After Saturday’s fight, White admitted that Leben and his future were on his mind, and that it wasn’t just the losing streak that was a concern for White and the promotion.
“His fight style doesn't help him either. He's getting up there in age, and the big layoffs don't help him either. I have to figure that one out too. I have to figure out what’s best for him, which people hate when I say that, when I do that.”
White has made this type of decision for his fighters in the past. He convinced Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes that it was in their best interests to retire. The difference is that those two were brought into the UFC with management positions, which does not seem likely for Leben, and that is a concern for White.
“I want Leben to get up every day and be a part of society, whether it's training, whether it's training other people,” White said. “Chris Leben has the type of personality that can go off the deep end very easily in a lot of negative ways. I really care about the kid. I like him a lot, I love the kid, and I just, I have to figure this thing out.”
White’s tone showed that he has a soft spot for Leben and he seems to have the best interests of the long-tenured UFC fighter in mind. White has a tough call to make concerning the future of one of the last active members of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter.
*All quotes were obtained by Bleacher Report unless otherwise noted.