Exclusive UFC 71 Interview: MMA Fighter Chris "The Crippler" Leben on Kalib Starnes
Exclusive UFC 71 Interview: MMA Fighter Chris "The Crippler" Leben on Kalib Starnes
Chris “The Crippler” Leben is set to fight Kalib Starnes this coming Saturday, May 26th at UFC 71 in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Coming off of a tough loss against Jason MacDonald at UFC 66, Chris is hungry to go to work on Starnes and is confident that his fans will be happy with the outcome. BuddyTV had the pleasure of catching up with Chris the other day to talk about the upcoming fight, so make sure you check out the full interview transcript below and listen to the mp3 audio as well to see what Chris has to say.

This is Royce from BuddyTV and I’m here with MMA fighter Chris Leben. How’s it going, Chris?


Great, it’s good talking with you again.


So just to start off, the last time we spoke was right before your fight against Jason MacDonald. He ended up catching you in that tight guillotine choke on the second round. I’m curious, what did you come away with from that fight?

Well you know…I mean, you always learn more from a loss than you do from a win. I really, really believe that. I learned a lot of things, going into that fight I thought there was no way in my mind that that guy stood a chance against me, really. You know I got lazy. I wanna go out there, I wanted to beat him up for three vibes and you know, I didn’t wanna knock him out quickly, you know to tell you the truth the first round pretty much went exactly like I wanted it to then all of a sudden I don’t know if it was the cut, it was cutting away or being there, you know but I started getting a little tired. You know, hindsight it’s twenty/twenty but mistake being made there my cardio wasn’t where it needed to be. Also on the ground I made a technical error, that won’t happen again. You know that was…it was a dumb move on my part and I mean, sometimes you learn them on the gym, sometimes you learn it the hard way. Its the first time I've ever been submitted. All I can say is, he didn't have to be a dick afterward, my hat’s off to him for catching me. I think I’m pretty tough to catch.

So how do you feel coming into this fight with Kalib Starnes? Are you healthy?

Yeah you know, anybody tells you that everything they’re doing in training, everything’s perfect, everything’s a hundred percent perfect, they’re lying. I mean, obviously I’ve trained harder than I’ve ever had, and you know when you’re pushing your body this hard you know there’s gonna be aches and pains and nagging things but you know generally I have any major glaring weaknesses or injuries. My cardio’s better than it’s ever been. I’ve been trying some new things, I’ve been riding my bike about 20, 30 miles a day extra, on top of training for cardio. My striking is better than it’s ever been, he fights a lot like MacDonald so I know what I’m in for going in there. I know what it is, you know and my plan is to go out there, do what I do and just put on a great show.

Can you expand a little bit on that as far as how you plan on engaging Starnes?

Sure, sure. I’m gonna knock him out. I’m gonna go out on my feet and I’m gonna throw heavy leather and I’m gonna make him…I’m gonna see if he wants to stay with me for about ten seconds and then he’ll start to clench me I’ll do that body lock take down that he likes. When he goes through that then we’re gonna play the game. It’s gonna be me trying to knock him out and him trying to take me down and if he gets me down, it’s not my first rodeo, I’ve submitted a lot of guys on the ground as we’ve seen before. I will wrestle, I will grapple, but obviously if I have my druthers, that would be…let’s give the fans what they want—that’s a knockout.

What weaknesses do you feel that Starnes possesses that you wanna go in there and try to take?

We know his ribs got hurt on the show, and I’ve heard through the grape vine and you know that’s one if his…he gets injured fairly easy. Starnes is one of those fighters you know that he’s tough. He’s a great fighter, he’s a black belt, and if you fight his game, he can beat some of the best of them. He beat MacDonald, but at the same time, when the going gets tough, it seems like Starnes gets going, you know. So I’m gonna go out, I’m gonna bring the heat, bring the cardio, conditioning, I’m gonna push the pace of the fight, you know. We’re gonna get it real hot in there, see if he cracks.

You touched on this a little bit already. You mentioned doing a lot of cardio, riding the bike. What else have you been doing preparing for this fight? Are you doing anything differently than what you did, say preparing for the Jason MacDonald fight?

Well you know, fighting and training for…training for a fight is a whole art of its own you know that peaking cycle, I used to just train the same all the time. When I was young…younger is should say, not young. A few years ago I go out party, I cut way back on my partying. I’m not a saint or anything like that. I’m not born again but I’ve cut way back, I got my weight down a lot, more than it’s ever been you know. I’m walking around 200 pounds now instead of going to Vegas at 212. So I'll be 197 when I get down there. The cut will be no problem, I’m lean and mean. I’ve been focusing on that. I’m focusing as always, part of being a martial artist, is focusing on growing and working on skills you think need work and obviously I think everything works. Everything I do needs work so I continue to work, I continue to grow, continue to change aspects in my life, you know tightening it up as I get older. If I want to continue on this game, I wanna be one of the top guys in the UFC. These are the things I should have been doing along time ago.

So what can fans expect to see when you step foot in the ring come May 26?

Chris Leben, man. You’ve seen me fight before, you know what you’re gonna get, you know. I’ll tell you one thing. I don’t think I have a boring fight. Ever. And if I do it’s not my fault, it’s my opponents’ fault. The number one thing for me, dude, is to go out there weigh it on the line, obviously winning is very important but I’m gonna go out there and I’m gonna bring it. You’re not gonna see a Koscheck/ Diego, you’re not gonna see you know…I see a lot of these other fighters now and they’re starting to over respect their opponents and they’re getting you know…and we’re getting these boring fights. Which is bullshit. I’m gonna go out there and I’m gonna do what I always do, that’s crack skulls.

We’re definitely looking forward to it. Any final words for your fans out there?

I wanna thank the guys who stand with me all the way, all my fans. Without them obviously I wouldn’t be anywhere else. You know I love those guys, people they hate me. I wanna thank them too cause they’re paying my rate, you know what I’m saying? Also, I’m starting to be a coach now out in Hawaii at the new Icon Sport Gym so if anybody wants to work with me I think I have a few things I can show some guys. You know, check it out Icon Sport on MySpace or go check out my MySpace you can check it out. I’ll be out there June first.

Nice. Alright thanks again for your time, Chris. From all of us at BuddyTV, we’re definitely looking forward to the fight and we want to wish you the best of luck.

Alright thank you!

(Interview conducted by Royce Yuen)