Chris Leben had a hell of a 2010. He put together a three-fight winning streak, capped off by a dramatic submission win over Yoshihiro Akiyama in a fight he took only a few short weeks after defeating Aaron Simpson; he earned Fight of the Night honors for that bout against Akiyama and Knockout of the Night against Simpson.
Then he ran into Brian Stann.
The “All-American” came in hungry against Leben and knocked out the very durable vet in one round, putting an end to the momentum he built last year. Like a true professional though, Leben sought to get right back on the horse and he will do so early next month at UFC 132 against Pride FC legend Wanderlei Silva, a hero of his whom he’s been looking to fight for some time.
“Wanderlei is an animal,” said Leben on the UFC 132 conference call. “There’s nothing more motivating than the fear of a coma. Honestly, I’m so excited to fight Wanderlei Silva. He’s one of my heroes. Believe it or not — and I don’t really wanna tell him this — but he’s one of the reasons I fight. When I just began to start fighting I used to get bootleg videos of him in Pride and I’d watch him and I would try to emulate stuff that he did. You have to beat the legend to be the legend. For me to be able to fight one of my heroes, I’m so stoked. This is like the passing of the torch — at least that’s what I hoping for. A little fear is good. That just shows me that I might be a little worried, but you know what? I’m going to get out there and do what I do because I look my fears and issues in the eye and then I conquer them.”
Leben and Silva will meet at UFC 132: Cruz vs. Faber 2 on July 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.