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In The Arena Blog

Chris Leben Story

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Chris Leben retired from the UFC and from fighting on January 20th, 2014 after 4 straight MMA losses to focus on his health, his family, and on coaching other fighters here at The Arena. 

He unretired in 2018 after his doctor’s gave him the all-clear to fight again, citing tremendous improvement in his heart health. Following the good news from his doctors Chris signed with a boxing league and once again entered the world of professional fighting.

This is a look at the life of a fighter most never get to see. 

This is the story of his comeback, his rise. 

This is the Chris Leben Story.

Part 1 – Chris spars with Rameau Sokoudjou, shows us his home life, gets some chiropractor treatment, and spends time with his family as he prepares to fight Phil Baroni in a World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation match.

Part 2 – Chris gives an interview with a TV reporter for Fox 5 discussing his heart condition, his recovery, and continues training for his upcoming fight with Phil Baroni. His pre-fight training includes practicing moving around the ring, punching mechanics, watching previous fights of Baroni, and focusing on improving his intensity.

Part 3 – Chris Leben and his team head to Casper, WY where he fights Phil Baroni in the first World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation (WBKFF) event as the main fight. Chris is really pumped for the fight and the WBKFF in general believing this to be the next big fighting league in the USA.


The fight ends almost immediately after it begins with Chris getting a TKO on Baroni after 1 minute and 20 seconds of fighting. In his victory speech Chris thanks The Arena and his coaches, his wife and son, and his sponsors Boardwalk Recovery and Genesis Recovery. The episode ends with Chris spending time with his family at the beach talking about how his life has turned around over the past few years.

Part 4 – The episode starts off with us finding out that Chris Leben got ripped off by WBKFF and even though he won his bout, they did not pay him. He retains a lawyer who sues the WBKFF for breach of contract and fraudulent inducement and tells us that he’s signed with BKFC, a fighting league he had originally intended to join before signing with the WBKFF. Chris then returns to family life, teaching at The Arena, and keeping himself in shape. He shows us one of the ways he stays in shape: running sprints at the beach along with other fighters and coaches from The Arena.

Part 5 – Chris discusses the ongoing legal battle with the WBKFF and gives us more detail on what happened after the fight, what the WBKFF / Bas Rutten was telling him about the money they owe him, and why he hasn’t been paid yet.

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