June 19, 2010
The man will not go away. And for those asking why Chris Leben continues to get UFC fights, Saturday night was a perfect example. The former cast member on Season 1 of "The Ultimate Fighter" will probably never find his way to a title shot at 185 pounds, but he's the kind of card filler that makes people consistently tune into UFC fights. Leben was thrown a tactical challenge against an outstanding wrestler in Aaron Simpson. But the veteran fighter's class showed as he fought through some nasty takedowns and a quick early pace set by Simpson to score a TKO win at 4:17 of the second round.
Leben (20-6, 10-5 UFC) said it perfectly during the prefight, pointing out that the former Arizona State grappling star, Simpson, only had three UFC fights while he had 14. Once Simpson realized he couldn't take Leben to the mat, he gassed himself a bit. It was the first loss of Simpson's career and he learned that wrestling takes a lot of work against a seasoned fighter like Leben.
Leben rose quickly to his feet after both of those first-round takedowns and then held his own in multiple clinches the remainder of the first and beginning of the second round. By the middle of the second, Simpson was tired, dropping his hands and stopped pushing forward. That's when Leben starting letting his hands go. He landed a straight left through Simpson's gloves. That backed up the 36-year-old. Leben moved forward and landed a left hook that dropped Simpson to his knees. On the ground, Leben landed six more big shots. Simpson (7-1, 3-1 UFC) got to his feet but was vaulted across the cage by a Leben right. Referee Josh Rosenthal had seen enough and spared Simpson anymore abuse.
Leben's career defines the term roller-coaster ride. He was a tormented character during the first season of "The Ultimate Fighter" but then rebounded with five wins to start his official UFC career. In the middle of 2006, he was then destroyed by eventual UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva. Leben has gone 5-5 since, served a suspension for steroid use and had to deal with personal and alcohol issues over the last three years.
This makes it two straight wins for Leben, who has turned his career around, using his underrated grappling game against both Simpson and Jay Silva.
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