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‘Crippler’ to the rescue! Former UFC headliner returns as cageside judge for UFC Vegas 79

With confidence in MMA judging at an all-time low (thanks to controversies like this), one former UFC fighter will return to Las Vegas to score the action from a uniquely experienced perspective.

The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale: Leben vs Thacker Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

“The Crippler” is back.

Former UFC middleweight headliner Chris Leben will make his return to UFC as cageside judge for the upcoming UFC Vegas 79 MMA event, according to ESPN, scheduled for this Sat. night (Sept. 23, 2023) on ESPN+ at the promotion’s APEX facility in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Leben retired from MMA back in early 2014 after losing to Uriah Hall at UFC 168.

“Scoring a fight, versus watching it for fun, versus watching it as a coach, those are three completely different things,” Leben previously told MMA Junkie. “If I’m coaching a fighter, I’m watching to see what’s working and what’s not working. If I’m watching a fight for fun, I see an exchange, and I go, ‘Whoa that’s awesome.’ If I’m judging, there’s no emotion. It’s check marks — he’s doing this, he’s doing that.”

Leben, 43, is a graduate of Herb Dean’s referee certification course and is a seasoned veteran as both judge and referee with California State Athletic Commission. This weekend’s event marks “The Crippler’s” debut for the state of Nevada.

“Some of it is subjective in a lot of ways,” Leben continued. “One judge might say it’s a 10-9 round, and another judge might say it’s a 10-8 round. You’re supposed to know the difference between almost a 10-8 and a 10-8, and that stuff can be relatively difficult with time and duration to make sure all those criteria are followed properly. I always want to affect the outcome in the correct way. Having been a fighter, I feel like there’s no job more important than getting in there and representing those guys properly.”

To see the UFC Vegas 79: “Fiziev vs. Gamrot” fight card and ESPN+ lineup click here.

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