Everyone remembers Rocky, a true underdog story. A movie about a boxer from Philadelphia, The Italian Stallion, who gets a shot at the title. Apollo Creed, The Heavyweight Champion of the world, feeling generous and looking to make headlines, hand picks Rocky from a list of nobodies, and gives him a shot at the title. Apollo agrees to take a fight with not just a non-contender, but someone he’s literally never heard of.
In the cage, Chris Leben would remind you of Rocky more than Apollo. Chris always fought fearlessly. A true entertainer, always coming forward, and being aggressive. Always looking for the knock out, and getting it. In his career he fought the best fighters out there. Fighters like Anderson Silva, who many consider the greatest of all time. Wanderlei Silva, a Pride legend, and current middleweight champion Michael Bisping. Chris is a true pioneer of the sport and an alumni from the first season of The Ultimate Fighter.
There’s so much more that can be said about Chris, like about the time he got a TKO on Aaron Simpson, winning knock out of the night. Then just a mere two weeks later, stepped in on short notice and submitted Yoshihiro Akiyama, a fight that many believed was the fight of the year. There’s also the time he knocked Wanderlei Silva out in 27 seconds. His 22 UFC fights at middleweight is an all-time record. Enough of that though, let’s get back to the comparison, the reason why Chris Leben will always remind me of Apollo Creed.
He gave me a shot much like Apollo did. A writer he had never heard of. I reached out and he could have ignored me or directed me to his manager, like many other fighters did. Instead he was a cool dude and said, “Sure. Why not? I’ll call this guy I’ve never heard of at 4 in the morning and give him a 37 minute interview.” Now this being my first interview it could have been tough. Could you imagine your first big interview being with someone like Bill Billichick from the New England Patriots or Greg Poppovich from the San Antonio Spurs?
That could have been awkward. Not with Chris though, with his charisma, wit, and war stories. He always makes for a great interview, no matter who the host is. I can only imagine the awesome stuff in his book, The Crippler: Cage Fighting and My Life on the Edge. Chael Sonnen has said many times that Chris Leben has the best stories. While beauty, youth, and high school friends all fade away, my interview with the Crippler will be a memory that will stick with me forever.
If you missed my interview with Chris Leben, here it is again