Chris Leben’s first shot at Michael Bisping didn’t exactly go as planned. Soon after signing to fight “The Count” at UFC 85 in London, Leben was forced to return to Oregon to deal with an outstanding warrant resulting from a DUI arrest before he could leave the country. Though Leben and the UFC were hoping to resolve the matter quickly, the judge had other plans. Leben was sentenced to thirty-five days in jail, prompting the UFC to scratch him from the card.
With his legal troubles now behind him, Leben is getting a second chance at Bisping, this time at UFC 89 in Birmingham, England. In this exclusive CagePotato interview Leben discusses his maturation process as a fighter, his gameplan against Bisping, dealing with hometown judges, and more.
CagePotato.com: Hey Chris. Thanks for talking with me. We’re a few weeks out from the fight. How is your preparation coming?
Really good, really well. It’s been long and intense and I’m kind of just getting to the point now where I’m ready to go fight and get this thing over with.
It seems like things really changed for you when you moved to Hawaii. What has that move done for you?
You know, it’s great. Moving to Hawaii is definitely the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. I had the opportunity to be the head coach at Icon and there are a whole bunch of guys out here training with me who are just great. But besides the gym and the wonderful people out here you have the weather and everything that is Hawaii. It’s been really conducive to my training.
I hear a lot of people say you’re much more mature these days, no longer such a wild guy in and out of the cage. What do you think prompted that transformation?
Losing (laughs). You know, I got away with being a brawler for a long time. And it’s hard to change things when they’re working. But when I fought Anderson I realized, I might be able to beat 95% of the guys out there, but I’ll never be a world champion fighting this way. So I had to go back and change a lot of things. That was one part of it.
And the other part was, you know, coaching. Now that I have a team of amateur guys fighting, it’s hard to tell them to do something if you’re not doing it yourself.