Chris Leben is no stranger to new beginnings. In July, he’ll put his latest one to the test and so far, it seems to be working out just fine.

Leben (22-9 MMA, 12-8 UFC) meets Andrew Craig (8-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) at UFC 162. He’ll do so after a major camp switch that saw him move from Hawaii to San Diego to train at Alliance MMA.

Leben uprooted from his longtime training base on Oahu and moved to California in part because his wife now is in law school in San Diego. But it may turn out to be perfect timing all the way around.

“If you’ve got to move from Hawaii, San Diego’s probably your only option,” Leben told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). “I love Hawaii. But there’s just not a lot going on out there. If you’re looking to retire, Hawaii’s fantastic. But I’m training at Alliance, and the quality of training there, it’s phenomenal. I think it’s a really, really good move for me.”

UFC 162 takes place July 6 at at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena. The evening’s main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and Facebook.

Leben gave up the gym he was running in Hawaii to concentrate full-time on fighting. The opportunity to teach and coach and train will be there later, he figured. Right now, he wants to take one more run at things in the UFC’s middleweight division.

And after some high-profile scrapes with substance abuse and suspensions from the UFC, Leben believes he’s on the right path right now to make that run as a 32-year-old fighter.

“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my career,” he said. “But with the new gym and sticking to my diet and actually walking the line, I feel 10 years younger now than when I was competing earlier. I’m performing better in the gym and we hopefully get to have that transfer over come (fight) night. I don’t see myself hanging my hat up anytime soon.”

Those ups and downs have caused more than few people to raise eyebrows in Leben’s general direction through the years, and he knows it. In fact, when it came to training at Alliance, Leben knew his new training partners and coaches might be a little skeptical of him joining the team.

“I can’t tell you just how nervous I was,” Leben said. “But obviously everyone at the gym is concerned because one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. And what they have at Alliance is, there’s such a camaraderie and a team feeling. At first, I feel like it was a probational period. But I feel like I’m getting to the end of that now where I’m showing them I’m 32 years old, I’m married, I’m not the crazy ‘Crippler’ that you guys saw on the first ‘Ultimate Fighter’ – that’s not me anymore. I want to go in, train hard, do my work and be a productive member of this team. I think those guys are starting to see that now. Everyone’s starting to open up and we’re starting to talk a little more. So it’s definitely moving in the right direction.”

Leben will get to see that direction when he meets Craig at UFC 162. And while the Texan may not have the same name recognition as recent Leben opponents like Brian Stann, Wanderlei Silva and Mark Munoz, Leben isn’t taking anything for granted.

In fact, just the opposite. With three losses in his past four fights, plus a suspension in there, he knows a win is crucial.

“Everybody’s tough nowadays,” he said. “In the UFC, either you’re fighting a hardened veteran or you’re fighting a young and hungry newcomer who needs to win to keep his job. There’s really no easy fights anymore. The skill level in the game has just accelerated and gotten so much higher in the last few years. I’m training harder than i ever have and there is absolutely no looking past Andrew Craig in any way. I have to go out and make a statement, and that’s what I plan to do.”

For the latest on UFC 162, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie.com Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, MMAjunkie.com lead staff reporter John Morgan and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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

Related News

Chris Leben 'didn't realize that people didn't wake up and drink every day' before TUF 1

  • 20 days ago
  • 31 views

The first season of The Ultimate Fighter changed the game for MMA and the UFC. It also changed Chris Leben's life. There isn't much "The Crippler" would alter about everything he learned about himsel read news >>

Chris Leben was 'a bit of a d**k head' to Jason Thacker on The Ultimate Fighter

  • 21 days ago
  • 27 views

Former UFC slugger Chris Leben was featured as a guest on Sunday's edition of Submission Radio. 'The Crippler' recounted of his stint on the historic debuting season of The Ultimate Fighter which saw read news >>

Chris Leben was ‘blown away’ by Anderson Silva’s positive drug test, believes it’s ‘damaging to his legacy’

  • 21 days ago
  • 10 views

TUF veteran Chirs Leben discusses his former opponent Anderson Silva’s recent positive drug test, as well as what that means for his legacy as one of the greatest fighters of all time. read news >>

The MMA Hour with Mark Coleman, Chris Leben, Phillipe Nover, Eddie Gordon & Aljamain Sterling in studio, Marc Raimondi

  • 21 days ago
  • 3 views

The Mixed Martial Arts Hour is back in your life. Below is a look at Monday's rundown: 1:00 p.m. ET -- MMAFighting.com's Marc Raimondi will recap a busy weekend in MMA. 1:25 p.m. -- Hall of Famer Mar read news >>

Cody Garbrandt, Henry Briones to square off at UFC 189

  • 24 days ago
  • 3 views

Promising bantamweights Cody Garbrandt and Henry Briones are set to fight at UFC 189 on July 11.Garbrandt (6-0) won his UFC debut at UFC 182, knocking out Marcus Brimage in the third round.Briones (1 read news >>

Henry Briones vs. unbeaten Cody Garbrandt on tap for UFC 189 in Las Vegas

  • 24 days ago
  • 2 views

The UFC’s July card in Las Vegas continues to grow with the addition of a new bantamweight bout. Filed under: MMA Rumors, News, UFC read news >>

UFC 189: Tyron Woodley trying to pick a fight with Johny Hendricks on July 11

  • 25 days ago
  • 5 views

Is Tyron Woodley good enough to fight for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight title? Certainly one way to find out. "The Chosen One" is hoping to pick a fight with former 170-pound read news >>

Frank Mir vs Todd Duffee official for UFC Fight Night 72 main event on July 15 in San Diego

  • 25 days ago
  • 1 views

We knew it was happening. Now we know when. Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champion Frank Mir will face 265-pound rising star Todd Duffee in the five-round main event of UFC read news >>

UFC vet vs. ADCC champ verbally agreed for Submission Series Pro in July

  • 27 days ago
  • 0 views

Submission Series Pro books UFC vet Tom DeBlass and ADCC champ Joao Assis to compete in a submission only match in Toronto,Canada in July. With Abu Dhabi Combat Club's Submission World Championship r read news >>