Chris Leben, one of the originals from the first season of The Ultimate Fighter and a nearly nine-year UFC veteran, has decided to hang up his gloves for the final time.
Following his last fight, a first-round TKO loss to Uriah Hall at UFC 168 on Dec. 28, Leben tweeted, “Time to start a new chapter in my life. I’ve landed the most strikes in the UFC. It was a good run. Wouldn’t change a thing.”
At the time, his trainer, Eric Del Fierro, told MMAWeekly.com that Leben remained undecided about his future, not yet ready to announce his retirement. Following a tweet on Sunday announcing that he is likely to become a team coach and instructor at Victory MMA and Fitness in San Diego, however, Leben announced on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that he doesn’t intend to fight again.
“I’ve got a lot of years ahead of me,” he said. “I’d like to still have my head on my shoulders and have a brain when I’m raising kids and doing all the other stuff that I want to be part of. I think it might be time for me to gracefully bow out.”
Leben was 10-1 when he joined the inaugural cast of The Ultimate Fighter. He went on amass a record of 12-10 in the Octagon, building a reputation for being a tough fighter that never backed down, and was willing to go toe-to-toe with whomever he fought.
He had been nearing a middleweight title shot midway through 2006, but became the first UFC victim of Anderson Silva. From then on, Leben primarily became a journeyman that consistently had fans excited to watch him fight.
Leben famously defeated Aaron Simpson and Yoshihiro Akiyama with just two weeks between fights. He knocked out Simpson and then agreed to step in for an injured Wanderlei Silva two weeks later, submitting Akiyama.
“I've had just a wonderful career,” he said on The MMA Hour. “I didn't start fighting until I was 21 years old. Back then you could actually get into the UFC, win and do well just on being a tough guy. I was a tough guy.
“[But] the game has been evolving and changing so much, so rapidly, that I'm actually pretty happy that I can say I was in it for as long as I was in it.”