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 411mania » MMA » Columns

The 411 MMA Top 10 02.03.14 Top Ten Chris Leben Fights
Posted by Alex Rella on 02.03.2014

Chris Leben's Top Ten Fights
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Hey there gentle readers, I am Alex Rella and this is the MMA Top Ten. This week we will be looking at the career of the recently retired Chris Leben. A competitor from the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, Leben fought a record twenty two times in the UFC's middleweight division from 2005-13. A fun brawler til the end, Leben had some good fights in his career. I originally couldn't stand him during TUF, but he grew on me over the years and I was hoping he could turn things around and keep it going a little while longer. The fights are ranked based on fight quality, the significance of the fight in relation to his career, and some of my personal opinion.

Honorable Mentions:
• VS Edwin Dewees at UFN 2
• VS Jorge Rivera at UFN 3
• VS Kalib Starnes at UFC 71
• VS Forrest Griffin's Door

10: VS Patrick Cote UFN 1
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Patrick Cote has had an interesting UFC career with some high and low moments. His UFC debut was against Tito Ortiz on short notice, he was the TUF season 4 runner up, he challenged Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight title, got released, and now he's coaching the season of TUF that's currently airing. But way back in 2005 at the first UFC Fight Night, Cote took on Chris Leben. An important fight for both men as Cote was still looking for his first UFC win and this was Leben's first fight after the TUF finale. The two had a close fight as Leben edged him out with a split decision victory. Not the best of all time, but it was a step in the right direction for the Crippler and a win over another tough fighter that would go on to have a respectable career.

9: VS Jason Thacker TUF 1 Finale
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The first Ultimate Fighter finale was an historic show and many of the competitors from the first season got a chance to compete on the prelims. Leben's first UFC opponent was Jason Thacker, who requested the fight from Dana White after he found out Leben pissed on his bed during the show. You can't blame Thacker for trying to get a little revenge. Leben would win the as the referee would stop the fight after only ninety five seconds. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe this was Thacker's only professional fight as well. The win secured a roster spot for Leben and he would apologize for the peeing incident after the fight.

8: VS Brian Stann UFC 125
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Brian Stann also announced his retirement not too long ago and the two heavy handed fighters met back in 2011 at UFC 125. Leben was on a three fight winning streak and Stann was looking to stay undefeated at middleweight. This fight had 3:37 minutes of stiff striking. Stann dropped Leben with a right and Leben worked his way back up, but he went down again after some knees and was finished off on the ground. There was some talk that Leben fought with a fever, which is possible but only Leben knows for sure. The Crippler lost this one, but still a fun fight.

7: VS Alessio Sakara UFC 82
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Alessio Sakara was just released from the UFC and he's kind of like a not as good version of Chris Leben. Sakara came over to the UFC in 2005 and while he was usually a fun brawler, he was never really an overly good fighter despite staying with the company for so long. The Italian boxer made his middleweight debut against the Crippler in 2008, but unfortunately for him it didn't go too well. Leben proved himself to be the better striker as he knocked Sakara out in the middle of the first round. Leben go himself the Knockout of the Night bonus for it too.

6: VS Jorge Santiago UFN 6
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One thing I always thought was cool about the early UFC Fight Night shows was how they were filled with the early TUF guys like Leben, Stephan Bonnar, Josh Koscheck, and Diego Sanchez. Leben competed on the first six UFN shows and took on Jorge Santiago in the sixth one. Santiago also recently retired and he had some nice accomplishments outside of the UFC. He won the Strikeforce and Sengoku Middleweight Grand Prix events and Sengoku's middleweight title which he defended against Kazuo Misaki and Mamed Khalidov. This was Santiago's second fight in the UFC and Leben's first since getting destroyed by Anderson Silva at UFN 5. Leben knocked him out thirty five seconds into the second round and won his first Knockout of the Night bonus.

5: VS Mike Swick WEC 9

Both Mike Swick and Chris Leben competed on the first season of TUF, Swick as a light heavyweight and Leben at middleweight. Back in 2004, both guys fought in the WEC for their inaugural middleweight title. This was before the WEC was bought by Zuffa, but the title was still a huge accomplishment for the two young undefeated fighters. Leben knocked out Swick forty five seconds into the second round to win the biggest title of his career. Leben vacated the title to compete on TUF and would of course bring the fight up on more than one occasion in the house. A rematch was rumored a couple years later, but it never came to fruition.

4: VS Wanderlei Silva UFC 132

Chris Leben started calling out Wanderlei Silva after he replaced the Axe Murderer at UFC 116. Leben would have to wait a year to get his wish as Silva was on the sidelines with an injury. It finally went down at UFC 132 and the two brawlers came out swinging. Leben connected with some really good uppercuts and Wanderlei was knocked out in only 27 seconds. Leben would never win again, but at least his last victory was against one of the all-time greats.

3: VS Aaron Simpson TUF 11 Finale

Aaron Simpson is currently signed with the WSOF, but he was on a pretty good run in the UFC back in 2010 when he took on Leben. A former NCAA Division I All-American and Pac 10 wrestling champion, Simpson was 8-0 at this point and was coming off victories over tough middleweights like Tom Lawlor and Ed Herman. Simpson dominated the first round as he showcased his elite wrestling slamming the Crippler to the mat multiple times. Simpson came out tired in the second round and Leben capitalized on it. Leben connected with some good uppercuts that sent Simpson stumbling across the cage and onto his face. The referee stopped the fight as Leben picked up his fourth Knockout of the Night bonus.

2: VS Terry Martin UFN 11

Terry Martin was a fairly good boxer that spent time competing in the UFC, WEC, Affliction, and Strikeforce. He even beat Chael Sonnen back in 2004. Martin came into his fight with Leben in 2007 on a four fight winning streak and finished off all four guys with strikes. Leben on the other hand was in desperate need of a win as he was on a two fight losing streak and lost three of his last four fights. The two had a stiff slugfest into the third round with Martin winning the fight until that point. Martin was trying to finish the fight when Leben came at him almost on instinct and reflexes with about a minute left in the fight. Leben knocked him out in one of the best comebacks in UFC history.

1: VS Yoshihiro Akiyama UFC 116

And the Crippler's awesome fight against Sexyama takes the top spot this week. UFC 116 is probably my all time favorite show. It had Lesnar/Carwin, Chris Lytle/Matt Brown, Bonnar/ Soszynski, and Leben/Akiyama in one of my all time favorite fights. At this point, Akiyama had recently defeated Alan Belcher at UFC 100 and was originally supposed to fight Wanderlei Silva, but had to pull out due to an injury. Chris Leben stepped up as a replacement only two weeks after beating Aaron Simpson by TKO at the TUF 11 Finale. Akiyama took the first two rounds, but they were competitive and brutal. Then in the third round a visibly tired Akiyama was on top of a very active Leben. Leben was in getting in a lot of good shots when he locked in a triangle choke with only twenty seconds left in the fight. It was one of the best comebacks ever and easily Chris Leben's greatest fight.

• So let me know how you guys would rank them or maybe I left a fight out that you thought should be in the top 10. I'm sure someone will make the joke that his fight with Anderson Silva should have been in there.
• As always, let me know if there are any topics or fighters you would like to see ranked in the future.
• Next week will be Frank Mir's best fights.

Bonus Strikeforce Fight of The Week

Try not to die til next week.


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