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Chris Leben Granted Pain Killer TUE at UFC 162

(Photo via Getty Images)

Well, this is interesting. The Nevada State Athletic Commission didn’t grant any new therapeutic use exemptions (TUE’s) to fighters for last Saturday’s UFC 162 event but they did grant the first ever TUE for prescription opioid Suboxone to Chris Leben.

The middleweight lost a split decision to Andrew Craig at UFC 162. He has been winning an even more important battle for sobriety, however.

MMA Junkie has been following the story. “The veteran fighter’s exemption offers proof of his efforts to get clean following a well-documented struggle with drugs. In November 2011, he tested positive for oxycodone and oxymorphone following a loss to Mark Munoz at UFC 138 and was suspended by the UFC for one year. It was the second time the promotion benched him following a positive test for the synthetic anabolic stanozolol in October 2008,” they wrote.

Leben has been to rehab and says he’s been sober for fifteen months. Addiction to pain killers is one of the least-talked about pandemics in MMA so Leben deserves credit for making his struggle public.

The NSAC also deserves credit for recognizing when certain controlled substances should be allowed for use by athletes. Better that Leben take a strong opiod under a doctor’s care while during the training and fighting that causes his body pain, than he self-medicate unbeknownst to anyone.

As for his active MMA career, Leben has now lost three fights in a row, and four out of his last five. He is only thirty two years old but has been fighting professionally for eleven years and that takes a toll on the body and mind.

For his part, Dana White told reporters after UFC 162 that he is concerned for Leben, unsure if the TUF 1 veteran will be kept on in the UFC as a fighter but also seem to express a desire to help Leben stay productive and make a living. ”Chris Leben has the type of personality that can go off the deep very easily in a lot of negative ways. I really care about the kid,” White said.

“I like him a lot. I love him. So I’ve got to figure this thing out.”

- Elias Cepeda

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Tampa Bay Boxer- July 10, 2013 at 2:53 pm
I guess its just my opinion and we all have them. Im just sayin, after using the shit for years and going through hell to get off. I lol at a fighter talking about his "clean-time" while hes on drugs. He isnt getting off the subs because he is being a bitch. Hes a pro fighter and one of the toughest out there but this shows you how strong addiction is. Hes submitting to that shit.

Im done.
Dog Dicks Magoo- July 10, 2013 at 1:34 pm
LOL at taking drugs to stay off drugs.
Uncle_Irish420- July 10, 2013 at 11:31 pm
never heard of the phrase "fight fire with fire"?
Uncle_Irish420- July 10, 2013 at 11:33 am
Taking suboxone under strict supervision IS NEITHER A RELAPSE OR FIGHTING HIGH. And not to be holier than thou with you Sethf, sir, but 12 steps aren't for everyone, in fact I personally found their program to be anti productive to my pill habit. I went the same route Leben is going , fight drugs with drugs, and it worked as I'm about to be 47 months clean and sober, no suboxone, nothing. When you treat suboxone seriously it can be a great advantage to your recovery.
Uncle_Irish420- July 10, 2013 at 11:28 am
This article reminds of when people talk about weed without ever having tried it. Suboxone is not a permanent long term fix. It's not a pain killer, like OxyContin, oxycodone, hydrocodone. It blocks cravings and withdrawals as well as blocking opiates from reacting to the opioid receptors in the brain. He wasn't high, because even though they can be abused to attain a high(albeit a terrible one in comparison to opiates), Leben is monitored heavily. Tampa bay boxer, there's a big difference between methadone and suboxone, and while I agree with you he is using drugs, he is using them in the same sense a person with the flu would take antibiotics. It's not a long term fix. It's merely a way for him to ween himself off of the physical addiction. He'll soon get to a place where his body no longer craves opiates. It's the mental addiction that an addict struggles with forever. And in that aspect I wish him best of luck.
Tampa Bay Boxer- July 10, 2013 at 2:34 pm
I wish him the best of luck as well. I dont care if he wants to take suboxone like the zombies in pinellas county florida, where i live. What i think is ridiculous is that now youll see all the other drug abusing mma fighters getting free passes to take suboxone around fight time to mask their withdrawls until they take their drug test and its back to the habit. This is enabling the fighters and will hurt them in the end - or until they stop issuing free passes for shit like this. And no suboxone is not methadone you are correct there, however, it is not a far cry from it.
Tampa Bay Boxer- July 10, 2013 at 10:56 am
Woa woa woa. What the FUCK. I am a Leben fan and was rooting for him to come back Saturday night with a big win. I was addicted to oxycodone for a few years and have been clean for about a year and a half now. Let me tell you what - Being on suboxone means you are on DRUGS. He is not fucking CLEAN, he is still using drugs. For anyone who doesn't know that would be like going from shooting heroin every day to one day visiting the methadone clinic and then telling your boys hey "Im clean." What a fucking JOKE man. I am literally depressed about this. He is prolonging the agony of withdrawal by staying on that shit long term. I took 3 suboxine pills to withdrawl from a ten oxy a day habit. 3. It is a very temporary means to an end when used properly. I switched addictions to working out like leben stated and feel great but I am still an addict and the thought of even taking a suboxone fucks with my head. For those of you who were fooled by this bullshit from Leben go take a suboxone and let me know if you dont throw up from it. You will feel high for a full day. Fuck these athletic comissions man - first testosterone and now suboxone???? Wait and see how this new rule gets abused guys. Incredible.
AndyInflammatory- July 9, 2013 at 6:49 pm
And yet the smile never touched the CatSmashers eyes.
blood red rock- July 9, 2013 at 3:30 pm
Suboxone is supposed to be used to help ween people off of opioids gradually, but in my experience it is usually just used as a permanent replacement for other opioids.
SethF- July 9, 2013 at 2:35 pm
Not to get all "holier than thou" on everyone, but I'd just like to point out that 12 step programs don't count Suboxone usage as being clean; it's treated as a relapse. That being said, I have absolutely no problems with this exemption or Leben's usage.
Tampa Bay Boxer- July 10, 2013 at 10:58 am
You are saying that taking suboxone is a relapse so why would you be okay with a fighter in "relapse mode" fighting while on drugs? I dont get it.
Fried Taco- July 9, 2013 at 1:54 pm
I thought the ref screwed up Leben's fight, he was out in the 3rd. If the ref had jumped in and stopped the fight, Leben would've been grabbing onto the ref instead, and no one would have complained. In fact, if Kim and Yves switched reffing jobs last Saturday, Craig would've got the TKO and Dave Herman would have lasted at least a few seconds longer. I swear Pee Wee was going for an arm bar!