Chris Leben was never good enough, or disciplined enough, to win the UFC world championship. He battled plenty of demons, from drugs and alcohol abuse to other personal issues. He wasn't the most technically correct fighter.

What the veteran of Season 1 of "The Ultimate Fighter," regularly did, though, was put his heart and soul into every fight he ever had. He would bring the fans out of their feet with a powerful punch or a thunderous kick that quickly drew the fans out of their seats, giddy with delight.

He was the epitome of the guy who tried to put on a show.

Leben announced his retirement as an active mixed martial arts fighter Monday on Ariel Helwani's MMA Hour. His 12-10 record is fairly indicative of the type of talent that he had.

He was a win-some, lose-some kind of a guy.

But Leben will be remembered as one of the most significant figures of the UFC's first 20 years because of his total commitment to put on a show.

Leben recognized that the sport is entertainment, and he strove to entertain whenever he entered the cage. He might not have been good enough to knock you out – he couldn't get within a foot of hitting future UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva when they fought in 2006 but, until he was stopped himself, Leben put every ounce of effort into trying to take Silva out.

The style of fights in the UFC is largely a reflection of UFC president Dana White's preference. Long before he got into the UFC, White, a life-long boxing fan, fell in love with the late boxer Arturo Gatti's brawling style.

When he purchased the UFC along with brothers Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta in 2001, he sought out fighters who had the Gatti mentality and would go for broke at all costs.

That philosophy, along with even matchmaking, allowed mid-tier talents to become stars, which is a vast difference from boxing.

The biggest stars in boxing are almost always the most physically gifted. The most significant boxing stars of the last 25 years were Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao, Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis. All of them happened to rank at or near the top of the sport in terms of talent level.

In MMA, the star power of Leben, fellow TUF 1 castmate Stephan Bonnar and many others far outshone their physical talents. There are dozens more fighters like that in the UFC now.

They provided entertaining fights filled with back-and-forth action. Fans weren't turned off because they weren't seeing the best of the best; rather, they were tuned in because they more often than not got to see a slugfest which would end dramatically.

On his way out, having lost four in a row and five of his last six, Leben also sets the right example. He was taking far too many punches to the head. Anyone who has been around the fight game for any length of time knows that fighters who regularly take that kind of head trauma wind up with serious brain issues down the road.

"I'm 33 years old now, which isn't the oldest for a fighter," Leben told Helwani. "But like I tell people, it's not how old you are, but it's how long you've been doing it. And I've been doing this game for quite a while.

"I've got a lot of years ahead of me. I would 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 just be time for me to gracefully bow out."

For that attitude, he goes out on top. During his career, he did nothing but his level best every time to pull fans from their feet by giving them a dramatic knockout or a slick submission finish.

As he walks away, he sets another example for his peers in knowing when to call it quits.

He was barely over .500 in his UFC career, but Chris Leben is a decisive winner in my book.

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

UFC needs to strip Jon Jones of his title and pull him from UFC 187 immediately (Yahoo Sports)

  • 25 days ago
  • 38 views

From Yahoo Sports: Jones' latest run-in with the law is his most serious yet. It's time for the UFC to hold him accountable. read news >>

Rampage Jackson happy to be fighting in UFC again...for now (Yahoo Sports)

  • 26 days ago
  • 0 views

From Yahoo Sports: Jackson made a successful return to the Octagon on Saturday, but where he fits and how long he'll stay loom large. read news >>

Rampage Jackson happy to be fighting in UFC again...for now (Yahoo Sports)

  • 26 days ago
  • 0 views

From Yahoo Sports: Jackson made a successful return to the Octagon on Saturday, but where he fits and how long he'll stay loom large. read news >>

Trading Shots: On Floyd Mayweather, and the fight fan's crisis of conscience

  • 26 days ago
  • 2 views

As the combat sports world turns its attention to Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao, Trading Shots looks at the crossover appeal for fight fans, and wonders whether they can give Mayweather their m read news >>

UFC 186 reactions: Winning and losing fighters on social media

  • 26 days ago
  • 46 views

Following Saturday’s UFC 186 event in Montreal, several of the winning and losing fighters took to social media to react to the event or share a message with supporters. Check out those reactions.Fil read news >>

Joe Silva's Shoes: What next for UFC 186's winning fighters?

  • 26 days ago
  • 10 views

With UFC 186 in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Joe Silva and Sean Shelby’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for the winning fighters.Filed under: Featured, News, UFC read news >>

Nate Quarry surprised by fan backlash to UFC antitrust lawsuit

  • 26 days ago
  • 1 views

When Nate Quarry signed on to be one of the original three plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit filed against the UFC, he knew some sort of backlash was inevitable. Quarry, along with UFC veterans read news >>

UFC 186 Results: Michael Bisping Decisions C.B. Dollaway

  • 27 days ago
  • 1 views

Michael Bisping got back on a winning track, going the distance and earning a unanimous decision over C.B. Dollaway at UFC 186 in Montreal on Saturday. read news >>

Who cares if Georges St-Pierre returns to MMA? The former UFC champ is Dairy Queen's biggest fan!

  • 28 days ago
  • 35 views

Diet? What diet? Mixed martial arts (MMA) fans around the world are still hoping to hear that longtime Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre will return to the c read news >>