Chris Leben is an interesting sort.
One minute, he's a loose cannon inside a house full of aspiring middleweights and light heavyweights, the next minute he's putting on classic slug fests and displays of BJJ brilliance inside the cage, and then the next...
Well, that's where things get tricky, and that's where some people argue about how likable Leben is.
He's not released from the company, much to the relief of his supporters, but Leben will be sidelined for the next year and this breaking news will obviously have some people choosing sides.
Is Leben to be remembered as the man who brought it every time he stepped in the cage, or will fans only remember him as the guy that pissed hot in two trips to Birmingham?
Stanozolol was the steroid that took nine months and a third of Leben's purse the last time he tested positive and this time, Leben did look worse than some remember him looking in almost any other fight.
Were the painkillers to blame?
It's hard to say, but while there's no two ways around the issue, the hope should be that Leben seeks whatever help he needs and excavates whatever demons are still pressuring him right now.
Leben is one of the most polarizing images of the "warrior spirit" in MMA, and the worst things Leben should have to worry about are pugilistic dementia and the prospect of having his name in the same sentence as "a fight that sucked."
Not even his two rounds with Mark Munoz were dull, even if some thought Leben did not look as great physically as he had looked in past fights.
Yes, Leben is a fighter, and yes, he puts the show before the win despite taking his licks in the process, but this is the second occasion in which he's been sidelined for a failed drug test.
Leben does have a bit more sorting out to do in his personal life, but his fans will allow Leben the full year to figure it all out at last.
If he does that, it may not be long before the old Chris Leben is back in business, and when that day comes, perhaps we may once more speculate whether Leben is ready to support the 12-pounds of gold and represent the Ultimate Fighting Championship as its undisputed Middleweight Champion of The World.
Until then, Mr. Leben, cheers for a memorable 2011, and here's hoping we see you back in the cage by November 2012.
Oh, and by the way, MMA World, is the weight cut an excuse now?
That's what I figured as well.
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