Chris Leben, who was on the first TUF, has announced via his myspace fan club that he has inked a two-year extension with the UFC. This new deal pushes aside Leben’s old one which is used for TUF cast members. The new contract will pay Leben $25k to show and the same as a win bonus for each fight. That’s a $15k increase for both categories from his previous contract.
Leben is 17-4 and has gone 7-3 since starting up for the UFC. The Crippler has proven a great TV personality and draw for the UFC and he is next slated to bring his brand of controversy to UFC 82 on March 1st. Leben’s opponent will be Alessio Sakara, someone that Leben has said he respects, but:
“Honestly, as much respect as possible to him, but I really don’t think he deserves to be in the UFC. I haven’t seen him win the fights or do what he has to do to prove himself at this level. You know, we’re going to pressure him and test him and I’ll tell you what , he has a pretty good opportunity to prove himself if that’s what he wants to do.”
Leben made the above statement during the myspace fan club interview and his comments aren’t completely unfounded. Sakara is 3-3 with one NC since arriving on the UFC scene. Beating guys like Elvis Sinosic, Victor Valimaki and James Lee won’t even get you to the front of the line at The Sizzler. Sakara does have a lot to prove against Leben who, love or hate him, is a dynamic fighter who looks to be back on track after a stretch that saw him drop 3 of 4 fights, including one to Anderson Silva – which is hard to fault him for.
There’s a lot of R-E-S-P-E-C-T being tossed around in this week’s trash talking. Props to MMA Mania for a quote from “The African Assassin” Sokoudjou, which was pulled from an interview with Jarry Park. Machida had referred to himself as the “Assassin Killer” after his fight at UFC 79 with Sokoudjou.
“I used to have a lot of respect for [Machida] until he said that so I want to get back in there and fight him again. It kind of pissed me off, but this is the sport and you know you’ve got to respect people. You can’t just come up and disrespect people. You can go home with a win or a loss but you at least have to respect people. That’s not right. I used to have a lot of respect for the him and now I’m just not cool with the guy.”
Can’t we all just get along? The interview with Sokoudjou reveals some other interesting bits, like his parents not knowing he’s in MMA. Drugs is one thing. Gender reassignment is another. But I’ll be damned if I will ever tell my parents I’m an MMA fighter. I will take that to my grave! The Assassin also says he “choked” against Machida – but guess that still doesn’t excuse Lyoto’s post-fight comments. And we saw the fight. Sokoudjou didn’t choke, he just didn’t do shit. He laid on his back and waited for the bell. That’s not choking, it’s biding your time.
Sokoudjou could fight Machida again, but we’d rather see him put his super-human strength and badass dreds to use against someone else. It’d be good for him to put together a string of fights against formidable UFC opponents – especially ground experts – so he can work on his technique and learn how to defend against those dudes. The guy has the tools to be a dominate fighter, but when he rolls in with all the hype behind him and looks like a bitch, it makes us less than excited about a rematch.