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Exclusive Interview: Chris Leben talks Bisping, TUF, and much more..

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” -Benjamin Franklin

On October 18th Chris Leben, one of the UFC’s most celebrated personalities, will travel to England to headline UFC 89 in a middleweight battle with up and coming star Michael Bisping. It has been a journey full of peaks and valleys for Leben, filled with growth, progress, and life changes that may have the “Crippler” poised to reclaim his spot among the top fighters at 185.

Chris Leben

Chris Leben had a chance to speak with Chris Leben ( 18-4) as he prepares for his upcoming fight with Michael Bisping ( 16-1). The fight will headline UFC 89: “Leben vs. Bisping” on October 18th from the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham, England. The card will be broadcast on Sentanta Sports in England at 8p.m. BST and on Spike TV at 9p.m. EST.

Leben discussed a number of topics including the pressure of fighting in the main event, his growth as a person as well as a fighter, and his opponent Michael Bisping to name a few. You are headed to England to headline UFC 89, do you feel any added pressure being in the main event?

Chris Leben: Added Hype, obviously. Pressure has never been a problem for me. When I enter the octagon what is happening on the outside doesn’t matter, they could surround the cage with a black curtain and it wouldn’t matter, I probably wouldn’t notice. When I am in the cage my opponent gets all of my undivided attention. Over the last few years, you have experienced a lot of personal and professional growth, is there one incident you can point to or reference as the turning point in your career?

Chris Leben: There are 3 actually.

First was of course the reality show. It was tough at times watching how other people were viewing me. You are young, in a house, drinking and don’t realize you look like a fool.

Coaching has made me approach things differently. I have a gym full of fighters, and I can say anything I’d like, but in the end you have to walk the walk. You find yourself in small part a role model .
Losing fights would be the third. Losing sucks! I watch a lot of tape, I study all of my fights looking for what worked and what I might have done different. I look back on some of my fights and know I could have been in better shape. Can you explain how training your fighters has helped your game?

Chris Leben: It has help tremendously, the major benefit is coaching makes me focus on details. I find myself looking closer to the little things and this makes me better as a fighter. There has been talk that if Michael Bisping defeats you at UFC 89, he will be one of the coaches on The Ultimate Fighter 9. If the UFC were to ask you, would you consider coaching on the show?

Chris Leben: I’d love to do it. I have plenty of experience as a coach, and experience on the show, it would be a dream come true. Bisping hasn’t fought against a striker with your type of power. You on the other hand haven’t showcased your ground game in a while. Are you going to look to keep the fight standing?

Chris Leben: I’ll be comfortable wherever this fight goes. Bisping is a very talented fighter, but I think he is breathing the hype. He is good but not great, who has he beat? How do you feel the two of you match up?

Chris Leben: I think it will be a good fight. He has good foot work and punches straighter, I hit harder. I don’t think he will want to stand in front of me. I’ll have to work hard in this fight, and try and make sure he doesn’t run for three rounds like he did against ( Matt) Hammil. I really need to make sure I win every round in a very decisive way if for some reason I don’t finish him. Do you think the winner of this fight is next in line to fight Anderson Silva for the title?

Chris Leben: It will put one of us up there. I don’t know if it would make the winner next, but it’ll put one of us right in line. I read a recent quote from you where you had explained, that you are a martial artist, you want to be a champion and not just remembered as a good fighter. What do you think it will take to elevate you to a championship level.

Chris Leben: A LOT! ( laughs) I need to continue to go the the gym everyday and improve, always looking to evolve my game. I need to keep watching tape and breakdown what I did well, and what I can do better. Some guys have physical gifts, I aim to be the fighter with the greatest drive and strongest work ethic. Thank you for the interview Chris, is there anyone you would like to thank?

Chris Leben: I’d like to thank the fans that allow us to do what we do. I have to thank ICON Fitness it’s a great gym, and I have to thank the guys at Denaro Sports Marketing for all that they do for me.

  • KTru says:

    I do…really do….want Leben to win.
    But if it goes the distance, judges will side with Bisping

    As I need to note:
    Do not always take my opinions and statements seriously

  • KneeToTheFace says:

    I once hated Leben with a passion because of his antics on the Ultimate Fighter, as well as the fact that his fighting style just reminded me of a Kimbo Slice sort of fighter.

    But now that he’s grown up (which is quite apparent in this interview), I’m excited to watch him fight and I hope he does end the Bisping hype train.

  • Jim says:

    I have to agree with the above: Chris has really grown up over the years and I’m really enjoying his new outlook on fighting. I hope he has a great fight in England.

  • charles says:

    If Chris wants to win against Bisping (which I know he can do) he has HAS to finsh him.This fight is in the U.K..So, if he dosen’t finsh him then it will be the Matt Hammil fight all over agian ( thanks Cecil Peoples I really hate that guy he has messed up so many fights MMA and boxing but I digress).Anyways it well be a good (free) fight .

  • screwface says:

    seemed like a short interview, i would have liked to have seen a lot more questions asked but nevertheless im a catsmasher fan. hes grown a lot from his first season of tuf and he never fails to excite or improve. i wish him the best and i know whatever the outhcome of his fight with bisping it wont be a disapointing fight, cuz leben wont have it any other way. but personally i see bisping getting ktfo in devastating fashion. if that happens is leben ready for a rematch with silva? imo no. but hes an excellent gatekeeper and with more training and motivation 1 day he will be a legitimate contender for a belt.

  • mike says:

    i never liked leben. he is always too damn cocky for his own good, but he seems to have matured a hell of a lot.

  • darkmetal says:

    Chris has really matured since his days on TUF. Gone is the volatility, and seemingly he is at peace with the past. I like the guy and have great hopes for him. I only hope that he is training his boxing intensely, as the one area he seems weak is in leaving himself open to shots. He has relied on his iron jaw for so long, that it might be hard to train this way, but he must elevate that area if he expect to win and have a chance with Anderson Silva.
    Bisping is deadly accurate in his boxing, and it is a very real threat to Leben that he can pick him apart. Sure, Bisping can rely on his power, but power alone will not win.

    Let the best man win!

  • MR ROZE says:

    They should of asked Leben about his loss to Anderson Silva and what he thinks of Silva’s reign in the UFC middleweight division since then. And how he would fight Silva differently if he got the chance. But his fight with Bisping will be a war.

  • David Andrest says:

    I had limited time with Chris this time around, he is very focused on the fight at hand, and I thought very clear that he has much work to do to be championship material by his own admission. I didn’t feed it appropriate to go to deep into future fights considering the timing of the interview.

  • Why so Serious says:

    This for me is a terrible main event. I understand that it’s England so Bisping no matter how undeserving gets the nod but vs Leben? How about a top 10 fighter or at least a fighter that has a chance of being top 10. I mean if Leben wins it means a little, if Bisping wins it means nothing.
    And please people don’t keep saying that the Hamill Bisping fight was that obviously swayed by location, I thought it was close enough to be a draw, although I thought Hamill may win I wasn’t amazed when he didn’t and I’ve been watching MMA since UFC 1 and boxing for years before that., I don’t rate either of them as really good fighters so prejudice for one or the other wasn’t a factor. Get over it, there have been far worse decisions made in the UFC and this being chosen as a main event is one of them.

  • HexRei says:

    Bisping is really still just starting at 185, and he didn’t leave 205 because he was dominating it or anything. He needs to fight a couple of experienced but not contender guys before he can really start taking the tough fights. Leben is well-known (thanks to TUF) and although he has a couple of losses recently he is not a bad fighter and makes a great gatekeeper for contenders. This plus his win against Day sets Bisping up to fight a contender should he take out Chris.

    But it’s worth pointing out that Bisping’s not proven himself to be a much better fighter than Leben so far. Most of Bisping’s meaningful wins are via TKO and unfortunately Leben has a chin from hell, and has only ever been KO’ed by A. Silva. So I think there’s a decent chance of Bisping losing this one, by KO or decision.

  • the Levi says:

    the Crippler will win by tKO late in the 3rd after the Count rocks him and rushes in try finish the fight but he will get caught.

  • Robert says:

    This is the worst UFC card i’ve seen in a while.


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