USA TODAY Sports
From his days competing in World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) to his participation on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 1 -- and 31 fights later -- Chris Leben has had an up-and-down mixed martial arts (MMA) career. Through the good and the bad, his loyal fans have stayed by his side, supporting "The Crippler" during his personal issues, which is the reason he feels they relate to him.
It wasn't a triumphant homecoming by any stretch -- "The Crippler" dropped a unanimous decision to Strikeforce import Derek Brunson. The loss marked his second straight and third in last four contests.
Though he didn't get the "W," the heavy-handed Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight contender did find comfort in knowing he returned to a loyal fan base that has supported him throughtout the good and the bad of his entire career.
In fact, Leben received an ovation at the UFC 155 weigh-ins similar to that of main event participant -- Cain Velasquez, among others.
Truly a fan favorite, his supporters, according to Leben, can relate to him because of both his fighting style and the personal issues he has dealt with over the past years.
His words (via Fight Hub TV):
"From my standpoint, I think a lot of people can relate with some of the battles that I've been through both in and out of the cage. And my life has been a lot like my fights, just always move forward, you know, kind of battle it out. I think a lot of people nowadays with the sport, it's not like boxing, now alot of these fans can relate. From The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) to now, the UFC has done a really good job. My life has kind of been in the public eye, so I think a lot of people can relate to both my story and then also the way I fight."
Leben has struggled with alcohol and painkiller addiction in the past; however, after being suspended by the UFC for the second time, he is now on the path to recovery after going through a rehab stint following his most recent suspension.
The Hawaiian resident says he hopes to return soon and get a win for himself and for his fans. And perhaps if the matchmakers at Zuffa don't match him up with another "boring" fighter," he can get back on the winning track sooner rather than later.