Just two weeks removed from his second round TKO stoppage of Aaron Simpson, Chris Leban got the call to do the quick turn around and take on Yoshihiro Akiyama in place of the injured Wanderlei Silva.
Fighting for the first time since UFC 100, "Sexyama" was still over a 2-1 favorite coming into the bout against "The Crippler".
I guess Leben didn't take a look at the odds posted at the sportsbook at the MGM Grand.
The first round was close, with Leben landing the better strikes and Akiyama doing the better work on the ground.
The second round was one for the ages. It was possibly the best five minutes of fighting I've ever seen—Leben hurt Akiyama, Akiyama hurt Leben, Akiyama controlled the ground, Leben went for submission attempts, and Akiyama fell off his stool when he went to sit on it after the round.
As the third round began, the fighters had a completely different demeanor.
Akiyama was breathing heavy; Leben had the look of a pathological killer in his eyes.
Both fighters, with their faces bloodied and swollen, came out knowing they each needed to win the round should the fight go to the distance.
Now I'm going to lie. The third round is a blur. I just sat back and enjoyed the action not expecting to be writing anything about it.
But what I do remember is seeing some leather flying, Akiyama laying on top of Leben, and Leben working off of his back.
That is when the unexpected happened. Leben slapped a triangle on Akiyama.
Without putting up much of a fight, the Sexy one tapped with just 20 seconds left in the round.
What a huge upset and an outstanding victory for Leben. Talk about a great time for scoring your first submission victory in almost seven years, and only the second in your career.
After the fight, Leben called out Wanderlei Silva. After watching this performance, I'm salivating at the thought of that fight happening.
This could very easily be "Fight of the Year" up to this point. Should Leben-Silva happen, Leben could easily be in two "Fight of the Year" candidates.