Chris Leben Announces Retirement, Hopes To Go Pro As Referee

Chris Leben
Chris Leben (Photo: Fernando Quiles Jr./MMA News)

Chris Leben has decided to step away from combat sports competition.

Leben has been a longtime fan favorite. Whether he was turning in gritty performances under the UFC banner, or giving it his all in bare-knuckle boxing, “The Crippler” is well-known and respected. Fans have also been supportive of Leben personally, as he celebrates two years of sobriety.

Chris Leben Retires, Hopes To Be A Pro Referee

In a new video posted on his YouTube channel, Leben announced his retirement (h/t BJPenn.com).

“Couple reasons why,” Leben continued. “Dave Feldman and the BKFC have been wonderful to me. It has nothing to do with that all. It has to do the fact that, first and foremost, I’m an amateur ref here in California. I’m aspiring to go pro, I want to do that, and I feel like it’s a conflict of interest being both a referee and an athlete at the same time. I want to focus on my career as a referee. Also, I want to focus on my career as a coach, as an elite-level coach. I coach jiu jitsu, I coach boxing, I coach MMA. When I’m training, I don’t have the time to put the energy into my athletes.

“So now, wanting to be a referee, wanting to focus on my fighters, my coaching, focus on my family—I want to have time and energy for them when I get home—those are all reasons.”

Leben ended up going 2-1 under the BKFC banner. He was defeated by Dakota Cochrane in his final bout via unanimous decision back in June 2019. Despite the loss, Leben says he doesn’t have the urge to go out on a win as he feels he has done all he can as a prizefighter.

Fans are sure to pay close attention to Leben’s aspirations of being a pro referee. He hopes to be seen officiating and judging major bouts in the UFC and other organizations.