after 12 years and a UFC record 22 middleweight fights inside the Octagon, Chris Leben is calling it quits. "The Crippler" appeared on Monday's episode of The MMA Hour to make his announcement official.
"It's been a fantastic, wonderful ride," Leben said. "I've landed more strikes than anybody out there. Definitely highs and lows, ups and downs, but I think I'm starting to realize that, for me, it might be time to make that transition away from competing and get more on the coaching side of things.
"After [UFC 168], I wanted to go back and reevaluate things, make sure that the decision wasn't based purely on emotion. That it was really what I wanted to do. And now, yes, I can say, I've really retired from competing in MMA."
A perennial fan favorite and one of the founding cast members of The Ultimate Fighter, Leben retires with a 22-11 career MMA record, as well as a 12-10 UFC record, although five of those 10 losses came over the course of his final six bouts.
"The bottom line, I've been with the actual UFC now for almost 10 years and I really feel like I've kind of grown with them, parallel with them," Leben said. "In this sport, you're either moving forward or you're moving backward.
"I really can't be upset. I've had a wonderful career. And again, I didn't start fighting until I was 21 years old. Back then you could actually get in the UFC, win and do well, just on being a tough guy. I was a tough guy, I had some techniques, and that always worked for me. But when you look at these guys now, like Uriah Hall, they're just a different breed of athlete than I am. The game has been evolving and changing so much, so rapidly, that I'm actually pretty happy that I can say I was in it for as long as I was in it."