In between Georges St-Pierre’s semi-retirement and Anderson Silva’s leg snap, Chris Leben quit his most recent fight on the stool, effectively ending his UFC career.
They might break during the course of a fight, and essentially quit-by-referee, but too often a fighter’s pride will override his better judgment. Which made Chris Leben’s decision on Saturday night so remarkable. Here was a guy who’s been fighting for his entire adult life, taking all kinds of punishment as he went, making the most self-aware decision a human being can make. Right after the fight was over Leben told Hall, “You’re the next generation.” Not long after that, on Twitter, he wrote: “Days of winning on toughness alone are over,” before implying that he would be moving on from MMA. How’s that for self-knowledge? When would you ever expect to see that kind of clarity from an athlete in the middle of a football game: the realization that a sport has passed you by and that the risks are no longer worth the rewards.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Leben, and even won some money betting on him in that Akiyama fight, but clearly he shouldn’t be fighting anymore. It’s the second time in four fights he’s quit between rounds, and his fourth loss in a row. Not to mention, this is a guy who’s taken a tremendous amount of damage in his career.