Chris “The Crippler” Leben has made no attempt to hide the fact that he’s excited to face Wanderlei Silva this weekend at UFC 132 because he’s a fighter that he looked up to and modeled himself after early on in his MMA career.
Leben expresses the utmost respect for Silva, recently telling Bleacher Report that he’s desired a fight with the decorated Pride FC veteran for several years, but only felt that he earned it when he stepped in for the injured legend on short notice to face Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 116 and won.
“I always wanted to fight Wanderlei Silva,” said Leben. “I’ve been kind of jokingly talking about it with friends for years. It’d be great if he came down. I know he fought Rich Franklin at ’95 and da, da, da, maybe I can go up to fight him -— whatever. When I stepped in and fought [Yoshihiro] Akiyama for him, I felt that that earned me the shot.”
Coming off of a TKO loss to Brian Stann which he claims to have learned much from, Leben feels as though he is currently the best version of himself, motivated to reach these levels of performance by that loss and the prospect of facing as fearsome an opponent as Silva.
“I think the timing and the way everything is working out is absolutely perfect for me,” he said. “This is the best Chris Leben 100 percent. This is the best I’ve ever been. I can’t wait to show that come Saturday night.”
UFC 132: Cruz vs. Faber 2 goes down on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Don’t forget to check back on FightLine.com on the night for our live, ongoing coverage of the event.