Time For Leben To go?
The UFC is not a charitable organization. While I'm sure it brings joy to millions of people, the UFC is foremost a business.
But not everyone sees it that way.
A recent article by Cagewriter editor Steve Cofield talks about the recent problems of Chris Leben, saying, "Here's hoping they don't axe him because if he's struggling with some of the demons of the past it might be the worst time ever for UFC to dump him."
Leben began his UFC career with the first series of The Ultimate Fighter, where he was known as the house's rowdy drunk, urinating on another housemate's bed. After the show's airing, he said he was so embarrassed by the incident that he quit drinking.
But a few years later he was caught driving under the influence of alcohol. Driving under the influence is inexcusable in my opinion, as it endangers not only one's self, but also anybody in that person's path. Too many people have been killed by drunk drivers for me to not care about this.
Nevertheless, the UFC still gave Leben another chance, as his brawling style remained popular with fans. After he had served his jail sentence for the DUI, Leben fought Michael Bisping in the U.K. where the troubled fighter tested positive for steroids.
Still, the UFC forgave Leben and gave him another shot, this time against Jake Rosholt at UFC 102 on Aug. 29.
In the days leading up to the fight, the betting line swung from Leben being a 2-1 favorite, to Rosholt evening the odds.
Yahoo!'s Kevin Iole said in a radio interview that he was told another fighter placed a large bet on Rosholt because Leben had hardly trained for the fight.
While the story is speculative, the outcome of the fight certainly lends to its validity: Rosholt submitted Leben via triangle choke 1:30 into the third round.
That leaves us with a fighter who's had legal problems stemming from alcohol abuse, been caught using steroids and allegedly barely trains.
On paper, Leben is an ideal gatekeeper: He has heavy hands, giving him the ability to threaten newcomers without good boxing fundamentals, and his wrestling and ground skills are strong enough to pose a significant problem for fighters who aren't adept at the grappling game. Furthermore, his brawling style has resulted in some exciting fights and spectacular finishes.
But potential and few solid performances shouldn't be enough to keep Leben in the UFC. With the continuing growth of the sport, there will be many other fighters willing and able to take up Leben's role.
Furthermore, while there are some who believe his actions only reflect badly on himself, the UFC's continued tolerance of Leben's actions reflects badly on the promotion and the sports as a whole.