(Leben celebrates his knockout of Wanderlei Silva at UFC 132 in July 2011. It would be his last victory pose in the UFC. / Photo via Getty)
The last time we saw Chris Leben, he was telling his cornermen “I’m done” after a round’s worth of abuse by Uriah Hall at UFC 168. As it turns out, he wasn’t just done for the night — he was done, period. The TKO loss was Leben’s fourth straight defeat in the UFC, and it finally convinced him that there might be more to life than getting kicked in the head for a living.
On yesterday’s installment of The MMA Hour, Leben officially announced his retirement:
“It’s been a fantastic, wonderful ride,” Leben said. “I’ve landed more strikes than anybody out there. Definitely highs and lows, ups and downs, but I think I’m starting to realize that, for me, it might be time to make that transition away from competing and get more on the coaching side of things.
“After [UFC 168], I wanted to go back and re-evaluate things, make sure that the decision wasn’t based purely on emotion. That it was really what I wanted to do. And now, yes, I can say, I’ve really retired from competing in MMA…
“I’m 33 years old now, which isn’t the oldest for a fighter. But like I tell people, it’s not how old you are, but it’s how long you’ve been doing it. And I’ve been doing this game for quite a while.
“I’ve got a lot of years ahead of me. I would like to still have my head on my shoulders and have a brain when I’m raising kids and doing all the other stuff that I want to be part of. I think it might just be time for me to gracefully bow out.”
Leben, who recently took a job as a coach at Victory MMA & Fitness in San Diego, discussed how his fight against Uriah Hall was a harsh reminder that he’d gone as far in the sport as his skills would allow him, and could no longer be competitive on toughness alone: