At UFC 116, Chris Leben faced Yoshihiro Akiyama as a fill-in for Wanderlei Silva. Leben took the offer after defeating Aaron Simpson not two weeks prior.
Akiyama came out strong in the first round, but Leben proved that his heart cannot be surmounted and never gave up. Although Leben has lost in the past, he has never given up, and this is why everyone respects the guy.
After defeating Akiyama, Leben made it clear that he wanted to face Wanderlei Silva. Silva recently had surgery to clear up scar tissue around his nose, the cardio gain of which helped him defeat Michael Bisping at UFC 110.
Leben has the chin, heart, and skill needed to go very far in the middleweight division, and even against the best fighters in the world, he's willing to stand and trade to deliver fireworks.
Would a win over Wanderlei put him in line to once again compete against Anderson Silva?
Anderson has his hands full with Chael Sonnen, and if we're lucky we may get to see him fight Georges St. Pierre afterwards. But if Leben continues winning, a middleweight title shot would have to be near.
When Anderson Silva debuted in the UFC, he beat Leben in 0:49 of round one. In a rematch, would the results vary this time?
There's no doubt that Leben has that terminator-like quality that makes him keep going at his opponents. Shaky legs and all, Leben has pulled off some upsets in his career with just sheer will and by refusing to give up.
His dogged perseverance would serve him well in a rematch against Anderson Silva, but more than that, Leben would have to use his experience gain to truly challenge "The Spider."
One way or the other, Leben will continue to give the middleweight division trouble as he systematically climbs the ladder. If he did face Anderson Silva again, one would hope he wouldn't blindly walk forward as he did in their first match.
With some punch slipping, effective wrestling, and refusal to give up, though, Leben would offer an exciting rematch against the middleweight champ Silva, one we may see soon if he's given Wanderlei Silva to fight next and if he wins.