LAS VEGAS - JULY 03: (R-L) Chris Leben kicks Yoshihiro Akiyama of Japan during the UFC middleweight bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on July 3 2010 in Las Vegas Nevada. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
"I know that with where I'm at and what I need to do, that my real goal is to go out and make a statement. I'm a little bummed out for Karlos Vemola because I know he's lost his last couple, and now he's getting a fresh reborn Chris Leben, which is going to be a bit tough for him. I want to get back in the mix, so I've got to go out and handle Vermola, and then hopefully Joe (Silva) will put me up against a little bigger name."
-- Ah, the proverbial "mix." No one really knows what it is other than the fact that it encompasses a certain level of acceptance as a contender in any given mixed martial arts (MMA) weight class. In the case of Chris Leben, that means climbing back up the ranks of the middleweight division, which he talked about doing in a recent radio interview. That's a tall order considering the current state of his career. He's lost two of his last three bouts, both to fighters already in the "mix," and is coming off a one year suspension for a failed drug test. His return bout against Karlos Vemola is scheduled for Dec. 29, 2012, at UFC 155: "Dos Santos vs. Velasquez 2" in Las Vegas, Nevada, and if he impresses there, perhaps the road back to the "mix" won't be as long as it seems. Stay tuned.