UFC: Why 2011 Is Chris Leben's Time to Shine

Michael EvansCorrespondent IIIJuly 27, 2011

PORTLAND, OR - AUGUST 29:  UFC fighter Chris Leben (L) battles UFC fighter Jake Rosholt (R) during their Middleweight bout at UFC 102:  Couture vs. Nogueira at the Rose Garden Arena on August 29, 2009 in Portland, Oregon.  (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Chris Leben has had his ups and downs in his UFC career. After participating in the first season of TUF he went on to win his first four bouts in the Octagon before running into current UFC middleweight champion, Anderson Silva.

Since that loss in 2006 Leben hasn't gotten a title shot, yet he has always remained relevant in the middleweight division. In 2010 he did something that no UFC fighter has ever done by defeating Aaron Simpson and Yoshihiro Akiyama over a two-week span.

Recently, Leben has moved to Hawaii where he has rededicated himself to training and completely reinvented himself as a person. After suffering a setback in a loss to Brian Stann earlier this year, Leben rebounded in a big way, knocking out MMA legend Wanderlei Silva in 27 seconds at UFC 132 on July 2. With another win, Leben could be looking at his first UFC title shot.

"The crippler" Leben will now face Mark Munoz at UFC 138 on November 5 in Birmingham, England. This fight will be a historic affair indeed, being the first ever five-round non-title bout. Dana White has said that five-round non-title bouts can and will be used for top-contender bouts. That fact points to this being a No. 1 contender bout.

Leben truly has come full circle both as a fighter and a man. He is a completely different guy than who we saw on the first season of "The Ultimate Fighter." If he gets a shot at redemption against Silva in 2012 he have a chance to erase a loss, win a world title and reach a pinnacle he has strived for his entire career.

2011 has been another roller coaster year in the life of Chris Leben, however now that he is poised to fight in the main event at UFC 138 his dreams have started to come to fruition.

2011 is Chris Leben's year to shine.