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Chris Leben Calls His UFC 138 Painkiller Bust a ‘Cry for Help,’ Hopes for a Late 2012 Return

(Photo courtesy of Sherdog.)

Following career setbacks due to alcohol and steroids, a one-year suspension due to unapproved painkillers was the last thing that Chris Leben needed in his life. But in a recent appearance on’s The MMA Hour, Leben spoke publicly for the first time since the incident last November, saying that getting caught following his loss to Mark Munoz at UFC 138 was the best thing to ever happen to him:

I’ve battled drugs and alcohol. I’ve battled with those for my entire life. I’ve had an issue with being addicted to painkillers for years now. I had some issues with my camp and it was almost a cry for help. I knew I was going to get caught and I just didn’t care at the time. I’m extremely embarrassed, I feel like I let down the UFC, but at the same time I think getting caught is probably the best thing to ever happen to me. The UFC has been unbelievable, they sent me to a rehab facility and they really took care of me.”

As Leben tells it, he had hoped to go cold-turkey off the painkillers before the fight, but his addiction was too powerful:

My wife had brought them to me for after the fight, and I had tapered off them for the fight, but there were some issues, a lot of stress, and I cracked. It was as simple as that. I knew they were there and I cracked. I couldn’t hold out.”

Leben says he hasn’t taken a pain pill since he got out of rehab, though he did have a brief relapse with alcohol, and is now taking Antabuse to help him stay on track. Leben now says that his life is “going really good, better than it has in a long, long time,” and that he hopes he’ll make a return to the Octagon late this year.

The question is, how long will these good times last? Can Leben make it through the rest of his career without succumbing to his old habits? While his painkiller bust might have been “the best thing to ever happen” to him, catching another suspension this late in his fighting career would be devastating, and possibly career-ending.

Before his fight against Munoz, we tried to ask Leben if he’d learned anything from his previous struggles with addiction, and he kind of jumped down our throat. It was clearly a sore subject, which makes more sense now that we know he was still very much in the grips of addiction at the time. That’s something he’ll have to struggle with the rest of his life, and hopefully it’s a fight he can win.

Related: Five MMA Fighters Who Beat Addiction

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KeithHackneyWindmillPalmStrike- March 14, 2012 at 4:28 am
You cold as ice Skeletor
BaghdadBob- March 13, 2012 at 12:25 pm
One answer for all of this article's questions: No.
frdkrgr- March 13, 2012 at 11:12 am
@fletch, you are 100% right about the bendo/edgar fight. so many gsp fans have forgot what a real fight is. "Oh he had more takedown" so the fuck what. what did he do with them? absolutely nothing is what. next time ben will absolutely crush him and then hopefully they put CRYBABY at the bottom fighting Leonard Garcia. The weight difference will give Garcia a shot but would still go to a decision. Fuck GSP... Long Live Nick, Rampage, Vanderlei, and all the other strikers that once made this sport fun to watch. Fuck me even when Randy Couture took someone down he had tried 110% TO KILL THE DUDE OR STOP THE FIGHT.
Me likey- March 13, 2012 at 9:08 am
oxycodone is a hell of a drug.
skeletor- March 13, 2012 at 8:11 am
typical fatherless bastard behavior
JKDbum- March 13, 2012 at 8:03 am
Did he really say his wife brought him pain killers.......hopefully she is willing to help him and not be an enabler. Addiction is a bitch and its hard for the whole family. I wish the best of luck to their family
Fletch the V Stretch- March 13, 2012 at 7:21 am
Hope the best for Leben. He is always entertaining and one of the few guys who go out there to bang these days. I will always appreciate fighters who actually fight and not play the point game.

On another note, the oddsmakers have Frankie favored over Bendo? Give me a fucking break. The fight wasn't even really all that close. Frankie is gonna get absolutely destroyed this go around. Bendo was halfway caught off guard by Frankie going for the take downs and being as strong as he was. This will be the case at all this time around. Bendo has more dynamic striking, more well rounded, and is the bigger man. Frankie should've moved down to fight Aldo while he was still in for an instant title shot. That won't be the case after he gets smashed.
ExpectJesusBro- March 13, 2012 at 7:14 am
Good luck homie. Alcoholism is a tough one to beat.