Posts Tagged ‘UFC 116’
Chris Leben might not remember his whole fight with Yoshihiro Akiyama – he says his recollection of the UFC 116 bout ends in the second round – but MMA fans definitely won’t forget the fight any time soon.
“True story, I don’t remember the fight,” Leben told hosts Joe Rizzo and Jeremy Fullerton on Rear Naked Choke Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. “I remember to about the second round. At some point then, I must have got caught with something hard because after that I was on autopilot. But I got a chance to go back and watch it last night with my girlfriend and, wow, it was pretty crazy.”
Even the submission finish was a bit foggy in Leben’s mind following the contest. Walking backstage after the fight, Leben asked his coach, Burt Richardson, if he had finished Akiyama half way through the second round and was surprised when Richardson informed him it actually ended with only twenty seconds left in the third round.
One thing Leben does remember is the unspoken feeling he and Akiyama shared during the fight that they were taking part in something special.
“I do remember, during the fight, I was on bottom and when I double-fisted him, he looked at me and smiled and I smiled back at him,” he said. “We both knew this was an awesome fight.”
The stand-up war put an exclamation point on a two week stretch that saw Leben go from fighting to remain relevant in the UFC to capturing “Fight of the Night” honors and putting his name in the hat as a top contender in the organization’s middleweight division.
“The Crippler” is now on a three fight win streak and feels nobody can beat him if he keeps fighting this way.
While no one can blame him for taking more time off now compared to the short break between his win over Aaron Simpson at “The Ultimate Fighter 11″ Finale and his brawl with Akiyama, Leben already has a few future opponents in mind. First is Wanderlei Silva, who Leben called out immediately after defeating “Sexyama”.
“The thing about Wanderlei is I grew up watching him,” Leben said on his desire to fight Silva. “I have more respect for him than anybody. He’s my favorite fighter so to be able to fight the guy you came up watching, it would be surreal for me.”
The other match-up Leben discussed would pit him against former training partner Chael Sonnen. That fight, in Leben’s mind, would be contingent on Sonnen claiming middleweight gold in August.
“If not (Wanderlei), I’d like another title shot,” Leben said. “Hopefully Chael wins. I love Chael, he’s a great friend of mine, but if he’s got that title I’ll get in there with him.”
Leben has never been mistaken for anything other than a brawler, despite his most recent win coming by way of submission. “The Crippler” has come a long way from his days on the inaugural season of UFC’s “Ultimate Fighter” reality series in terms of maturity, both in and out of the ring.
After entering the UFC and reeling off five straight wins, Leben ran into the force known as Anderson “The Spider” Silva. Following the loss, Leben realized he needed to evolve his game.
“Originally I could go out and I could bang with anybody and they would fall down eventually,” he said. “After I fought Anderson, I realized I have to change my game, I have to change my footwork, I have to be a technical fighter. That kind of set me back.
“Now I feel like the power and the banging ability of Chris Leben mixed with now my footwork and my technique, it’s all coming together to where I think that the bottom line is it doesn’t matter who you are, if you get in there with me you’ve got a fighter on your hands and I’m gonna be dangerous.”
While he might have snagged his most recent victory by way of submission, he is still a knockout artist at heart. The Akiyama fight was his first win via submission since 2005 and Leben acknowledges his preferred method is still the knockout.
“This submission that I got, it showcases my skills,” Leben said on the show. “But I like to knock people out. That’s what gives me the biggest rise. The crowd loves it the most. It’s the best way to win.”
He even jokingly adds that he was disappointed another fighter not known for his submission prowess, Brock Lesnar, took away his chance at a “Submission of the Night” bonus check.
Leben admits the UFC 116 card was incredible, but feels his performance against Aaron Simpson two weeks earlier was a superior outing.
“My fight against Aaron Simpson, I think I performed better,” Leben admits. “This fight, I can go back and I can say, ‘Okay, I made this mistake, I made this mistake.’ There’s definitely a lot of stuff that I’m gonna be taking back to the gym and working on tightening up.”
But that’s all part of growing as a fighter, something Leben believes he is succeeding in doing. He fought often early in his UFC career – following his win on the “TUF 1″ Finale, he appeared on the first six Fight Night cards – but his recent burst of activity won’t be a sustained trend for the maturing fighter, who turns 30 later this month and wants to work on improving his skillset.
“Before this fight, I’m talking with my coach and what we came to the conclusion of was let’s take five or six months and really grow,” Leben said. “I feel like I’m getting better every day. I don’t want to just keep fighting, I want to continue to grow and progress and that way I can move up the rankings. That was what we had established before this fight, that’s not what happened.
“Now, I want to go back and look at this fight, look at the mistakes I made and try to clean all that up as well as improve the rest of my skills.”
Leben’s life has settled down in recent years. He runs his own gym (the Ultimate Fight School in Oahu, Hawaii), is house shopping with his girlfriend and is amazed that he’s now referred to as an old veteran in the sport of mixed martial arts. The metamorphosis from the bad boy we came to know on Spike’s reality series to a true martial artist is well on its way. If the skills Leben displays in the Octagon don’t serve as proof enough of his growth as a man and a fighter, perhaps Leben’s words do:
“Back then, I fought because it’s what I like to do – I’m a fighter, but now I realize I’ve only got so many more fights left and so many more years left. I want to make them count as much as possible.”
Rear Naked Choke Radio went live from LA Boxing in Paramus, NJ with Joe Rizzo and Topps Trading Card Company’s Jeremy Fullerton.
The indomitable Chris Leben made his debut on the show after his thrilling submission of Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 116. Chris gave the inside scoop on his amazing finish. Did he and Brock Lesnar have a side bet about getting a submission? Listen and find out!
Strikeforce 135-pound champion Sarah Kaufman joined the show as she got ready for her next title defense. Sarah takes on Roxanne Modafferi on July 23 at Strikeforce Challengers 9 in Everett, Wash.
Cain Velasquez is next up to get a shot at Brock Lesnar’s heavyweight title in the UFC. Cain took time to join the Ground N Pound on the MMA DieHards Radio Network, where he talked with Hector Castro and Joe Rizzo about the Lesnar-Carwin fight, his rise to contention, Mexican pride and much, much more.
Free Webcam Chat at UstreamBellator Season 2 welterweight tournament champion and former US Olympic wrestler Ben Askren joined Not A Women’s MMA Show with Shayna Baszler.
With Shayna back from vacation to rejoin Isaac Duncan, Bruce Hoyer moved back over to the producer’s seat in the sweltering hot Siouz Falls, S.D. studio.
Ben beat Ryan Thomas in the first round and, in an odd quirk, also the semifinals of Bellator’s second season to advance to the finals. A decided underdog in the finals, he used his world-class wrestling to put Dan Hornbuckle on his back and keep him there, cruising to a unanimous decision victory and earning a shot at welterweight champion Lyman Good. Askren, in his post-fight cage interview, told Good that it was his belt and to shine it every week.