Popular Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight veteran Chris Leben is expected to return to the Octagon this summer, as "The Crippler" has announced he has a fight signed for July; however, the name of his opponent remains a mystery.
Leben (22-9) is coming off a disappointing unanimous decision loss to Derek Brunson at UFC 155 last December in what was his first fight since serving a one-year suspension for failed post-fight drug test at UFC 138 in November 2011.
Brunson decisively defeated The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season one cast member, handing Leben his third defeat in four fights, one of the worst skids of his 31-fight career.
The 32-year-old was eager to get back in the cage following the fight with Brunson, but unfortunately due to the UFC's loaded schedule, his time will not come for at least a few more months.
Leben conducted a sit-down interview with Kenny Rice on Friday's (March 8, 2013) edition of "Inside MMA" on AXS TV where he announced what's next for him.
"[I'm going to fight again] soon. I actually just got off the horn with Joe Silva, looks like they've got an opponent. Someone that's stepping up and wants to take a fight with me. But you know with all these guys they've got right now it's not like the old days when I can just get a fight whenever I want. So I think they're going to make me wait a little bit, it might not be til the beginning of July. As soon as he goes ahead and signs the fight then I'll be able to go ahead and let everybody know."
The beginning of July sounds a lot like Leben could be placed on the recently announced UFC 162 fight card in Las Vegas, which is headlined by a 185-pound championship bout between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman.
Following the underwhelming bout with Brunson at UFC 155, Leben requested the UFC pairs him against opponents who will engage in striking exchanges, which according to Leben's comments, is what he got.
The Oregon native wants to get back to producing the type of fights that have helped earn six post-fight bonuses over the course of his UFC tenure, and that's exactly what he plans to do in his next fight.
"Absolutely [he's a stand-up guy], and that's the one thing I want more than anything, especially after my last fight I believe that not only am I a martial artist and an athlete, but also we're entertainers in this sport. The fans pay good money for those pay-per-views and their seats and a lot of the guys today are going out there and fighting to not lose instead of fighting to win and beat their opponent. So this is one of the things I said for my next fight I said, ‘Give me somebody that I can put a show on with.'"
Who do you think is Leben's mystery opponent lined up for this summer?
Play the guessing game and let us know in the comments section below, Maniacs!