Chris “The Crippler” Leben has “mellowed out a bit” with age, or so he says, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t going to bring the all the firepower he can muster on July 2 at UFC 132 in Las Vegas. That’s when Leben will step into the Octagon with a man he calls a personal hero… Wanderlei Silva. Leben knows that, against a fighter like Silva, he’s got to bring it.

“Wanderlei is a blue collar fighter, he’s not gonna run from me,” Leben told MMAWeekly.com. But the Crippler is also of the blue collar ilk.

An inaugural castmember of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Leben has grown up in the Octagon, surfing numerous ups and downs since he first emerged there in 2005. He is currently coming off of a disappointing first-round TKO stoppage loss to Brian Stann, who derailed Leben’s three-fight winning streak.

It doesn’t take Leben much to get motivated for a fight.

“Punch me in the face, I’m gonna try and fight back,” he said with a chuckle.

But in Silva, Leben will have plenty of extra motivation. He’s fighting an idol, and after wading in the middleweight pool for so many years, he’s fighting to get his career back on track so he can make a run at the UFC title.

(Interview courtesy of Conner Cordova)

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