Former UFC competitor, and alumni of the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter, Chris Leben has been working as an MMA judge for the athletic commission in California, but this past weekend he made his debut as an official in Nevada at UFC Vegas 79: Fiziev vs Gamrot.
Leben’s call to Vegas came just days following a heavily criticized scorecard from Mike Bell, in which he ruled the fifth round of the main event at Noche UFC 10-8 for Alexa Grasso over Valentina Shevchenko. The margin declared by this scoring of the final round resulted in a split decision draw, meaning that Grasso would retain her title.
File this under things you love to see in MMA:
Former UFC fighter Chris Leben as a judge in Nevada pic.twitter.com/FDITUnrkFS
— Chamatkar Sandhu (@SandhuMMA) September 23, 2023
The former middleweight contender gained initial notoriety from his entertaining, and at times troubled, role on the immediately popular season 1 of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’. Following his first round knockout of Jason Thacker in the season finale back in 2005, Leben went on to secure four straight wins before running face-first into the knee of the debuting legend, Anderson Silva.
Leben would have a career of ups and downs, and ultimately retire from MMA in 2013 with a record of 22-12. In 2018 “The Crippler” did not feel that his fight was over, and he moved into Bareknuckle Boxing, securing 3 wins and only 1 loss before his eventual final match in 2021.
The combat sports veteran amassed a serious following during his time with the UFC, mainly due to his exciting “take a shot to land a shot” style. Quite often, you would see Leben moving forward, inviting his opponent to throw punches at an open target, only to devastate them by landing one of his bomb like hooks.
16 years ago today,
Chris Leben knocked out Terry Martin pic.twitter.com/g1yGdLeBTk
— MMA Mania (@mmamania) September 19, 2023
With the controversy surrounding the inconsistent judging in MMA today, many fans welcome the idea of former fighters being a part of the athletic commissions, especially those with the level of Octagon experience that Leben brings to the table.