Chris Leben - MMAWEEKLYUFC middleweight Chris Leben has never been a title-contender per say but he almost always delivers the goods when it comes to producing entertaining efforts inside the Octagon. Unfortunately, Leben could be running out of opportunities to do so, as “The Crippler” is currently on a two-fight slide including a lackluster effort against Derek Brunson in his previous pairing.

Leben will have a chance to correct his career’s course at UFC 162 where he’ll collide with Andrew Craig. Though the 27-year old may seem like an overmatched adversary on the surface given his lack of name value, knowledgeable fans understand the 8-1 Craig is a game competitor as does Leben. In fact, according to Leben, every fighter calling the UFC home is worth being concerned about.

“Everybody’s tough nowadays. In the UFC, either you’re fighting a hardened veteran or you’re fighting a young and hungry newcomer who needs to win to keep his job. There’s really no easy fights anymore,” said Leben in a recent interview with MMAJunkie. “I’m training harder than i ever have and there is absolutely no looking past Andrew Craig in any way. I have to go out and make a statement, and that’s what I plan to do.”

To assist in his endeavor, Leben packed his bags and moved from Hawaii to San Diego where he’s working alongside the likes of Brandon Vera and Phil Davis at Alliance MMA. Though making the transition was a tough choice, Leben realized it was also a necessary one and couldn’t be happier thus far given the results he’s seen.

“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my career. But with the new gym and sticking to my diet and actually walking the line, I feel 10 years younger now than when I was competing earlier. I’m performing better in the gym and we hopefully get to have that transfer over come (fight) night,” he explained, adding, “I don’t see myself hanging my hat up anytime soon.”

When they meet, the 22-9 Leben will look to add Craig’s name to a list of past victims already featuring the likes of Patrick Cote, Yoshihiro Akiyama, and Wanderlei Silva. Seventeen of his wins have involved some form of stoppage include twelve by way of strikes.