"His fight style isn't healthy for him, the way that he fights," White said. "He's getting up there in age, and the big layoffs don't help him either.
"I don't know. I've got to figure [out what to do]. I've got to figure out what I think will be best for him, which people hate when I say that and do that."
White clearly has a soft spot for Leben, who joined the UFC after being a cast member on the first season of "The Ultimate Fighter" in 2005. He's racked up 21 UFC appearances (tied for seventh all-time) with a 12-9 record. However, his career has been interrupted with arrests, drug suspensions and other out-of-the-cage issues, though prior to UFC 162, he told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) he was 15 months sober and enjoying a new life with his move to San Diego.
After the fighter's loss on Saturday, White said Leben texted him to apologize for the performance. His response has always been the same: "I love ya, kid."
As Leben wrote on Twitter after the fight. "Well didn't get the comeback story, but i promise you there will be no relapse story. Gonna stay strong & continue on the path."
White believes him.
"The kid's been through a lot in his life, and he always bounces back," he said.
But bouncing back in a sport as unforgiving as MMA can have long-term and serious health consequences. For White, who's taken a sort of father role with the fighter in recent years, he must weigh that knowledge with the uncertainty of what could happen if Leben does head into retirement.
"I want Leben to get up everyday and be part of society and have to do something, whether it's training or training other people, no matter what is" he said. "Chris Leben has the type of personality that can go off the deep very easily in a lot of negative ways. I really care about the kid. I like him a lot. I love him. So I've got to figure this thing out."