Is it do or die for ‘The Crippler’?

With a loss on Saturday, Chris Leben's long and winding UFC road may hit a dead end.

Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

 

After eight years and 21 fights, Chris Leben’€™s time in the Octagon may have an expiration date on it. The 33-year-old southpaw slugger will walk into UFC 168 with a three-fight losing streak. Few fighters avoid the unemployment line on such a tailspin, but as a key member of season one of The Ultimate Fighter, the show that White credits with saving the UFC, Leben gets special dispensation.

Even still, a fourth consecutive defeat might be hard to overlook, even for White, who indirectly admitted that Leben’€™s longevity was facing a stern challenge.

"€œLeben’€™s one of those guys, guys like Anderson Silva and Josh Barnett, you don’t see guys like this who stay at that level as they continue to get older and older,"€ White said after the pre-fight press conference. "Chris Leben might be at that point where he’s winding up his career."€

Chris Leben might be at that point where he’s winding up his career.

--Dana White

At 33 years old, Leben is actually three years younger than Barnett and five years younger than Silva. However, there is a belief that his physically punishing fight style has taken its toll on his body. During his UFC tenure, he’€™s been knocked out three times and has engaged in several wars, including a memorable one with Yoshihiro Akiyama in 2010.

On the other hand, Leben’€™s last two losses were both in fights where he out-landed his opponent but lost largely on the judges’ scorecards, signifying that he’s still competitive.

But being competitive isn’€™t always enough. Leben will have to prove that he can still win in the UFC, starting on Saturday against Uriah Hall, another TUF alumni in desperate need of adding a victory to his ledger.

"€œChris Leben’€™s had a great run one way or another,"€ White said. "€œHe’€™s a guy I will always respect and will be there for in some way, shape or form."€