“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” -Benjamin Franklin
On October 18th Chris Leben, one of the UFC’s most celebrated personalities, will travel to England to headline UFC 89 in a middleweight battle with up and coming star Michael Bisping. It has been a journey full of peaks and valleys for Leben, filled with growth, progress, and life changes that may have the “Crippler” poised to reclaim his spot among the top fighters at 185.
Fiveouncesofpain.com had a chance to speak with Chris Leben ( 18-4) as he prepares for his upcoming fight with Michael Bisping ( 16-1). The fight will headline UFC 89: “Leben vs. Bisping” on October 18th from the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham, England. The card will be broadcast on Sentanta Sports in England at 8p.m. BST and on Spike TV at 9p.m. EST.
Leben discussed a number of topics including the pressure of fighting in the main event, his growth as a person as well as a fighter, and his opponent Michael Bisping to name a few.
Fiveouncesofpain.com: You are headed to England to headline UFC 89, do you feel any added pressure being in the main event?
Chris Leben: Added Hype, obviously. Pressure has never been a problem for me. When I enter the octagon what is happening on the outside doesn’t matter, they could surround the cage with a black curtain and it wouldn’t matter, I probably wouldn’t notice. When I am in the cage my opponent gets all of my undivided attention.
Fiveouncesofpain.com: Over the last few years, you have experienced a lot of personal and professional growth, is there one incident you can point to or reference as the turning point in your career?
Chris Leben: There are 3 actually.
First was of course the reality show. It was tough at times watching how other people were viewing me. You are young, in a house, drinking and don’t realize you look like a fool.
Coaching has made me approach things differently. I have a gym full of fighters, and I can say anything I’d like, but in the end you have to walk the walk. You find yourself in small part a role model .
Losing fights would be the third. Losing sucks! I watch a lot of tape, I study all of my fights looking for what worked and what I might have done different. I look back on some of my fights and know I could have been in better shape.
Fiveouncesofpain.com: Can you explain how training your fighters has helped your game?
Chris Leben: It has help tremendously, the major benefit is coaching makes me focus on details. I find myself looking closer to the little things and this makes me better as a fighter.
Fiveouncesofpain.com: There has been talk that if Michael Bisping defeats you at UFC 89, he will be one of the coaches on The Ultimate Fighter 9. If the UFC were to ask you, would you consider coaching on the show?
Chris Leben: I’d love to do it. I have plenty of experience as a coach, and experience on the show, it would be a dream come true.
Fiveouncesofpain.com: Bisping hasn’t fought against a striker with your type of power. You on the other hand haven’t showcased your ground game in a while. Are you going to look to keep the fight standing?
Chris Leben: I’ll be comfortable wherever this fight goes. Bisping is a very talented fighter, but I think he is breathing the hype. He is good but not great, who has he beat?
Fiveouncesofpain.com: How do you feel the two of you match up?
Chris Leben: I think it will be a good fight. He has good foot work and punches straighter, I hit harder. I don’t think he will want to stand in front of me. I’ll have to work hard in this fight, and try and make sure he doesn’t run for three rounds like he did against ( Matt) Hammil. I really need to make sure I win every round in a very decisive way if for some reason I don’t finish him.
Fiveouncesofpain.com: Do you think the winner of this fight is next in line to fight Anderson Silva for the title?
Chris Leben: It will put one of us up there. I don’t know if it would make the winner next, but it’ll put one of us right in line.
Fiveouncesofpain.com: I read a recent quote from you where you had explained, that you are a martial artist, you want to be a champion and not just remembered as a good fighter. What do you think it will take to elevate you to a championship level.
Chris Leben: A LOT! ( laughs) I need to continue to go the the gym everyday and improve, always looking to evolve my game. I need to keep watching tape and breakdown what I did well, and what I can do better. Some guys have physical gifts, I aim to be the fighter with the greatest drive and strongest work ethic.
Fiveouncesofpain.com: Thank you for the interview Chris, is there anyone you would like to thank?
Chris Leben: I’d like to thank the fans that allow us to do what we do. I have to thank ICON Fitness it’s a great gym, and I have to thank the guys at Denaro Sports Marketing for all that they do for me.