Bellator MMA Signs ‘TUF 1’ Cast Member, UFC Veteran Chris Leben

By Tristen Critchfield Feb 6, 2016

Chris Leben has ended a two-year retirement to sign with Bellator MMA.

Bellator President Scott Coker revealed the news during "Inside MMA” on AXS-TV Friday night.

“I met with him and felt comfortable. He’s got some physicals to pass, but pending the passing of all his physicals, he will be a Bellator fighter,” Coker said.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed and a date for Leben’s debut was not given.

A veteran of Season 1 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Leben announced his retirement from MMA early in 2014, citing a desire to transition to coaching. “The Crippler” went 12-10 during a lengthy Octagon tenure and established himself as a popular fighter thanks to his trademark brawling style. Leben owns notable wins over the likes of Patrick Cote, Jorge Rivera, Aaron Simpson, Yoshihiro Akiyama and Wanderlei Silva. He initially called it quits on the heels of a four-fight skid within the Las Vegas-based promotion.

Leben has also dealt with a number of issues both in and out of the cage. He was arrested for an alcohol-related offense in 2008 and suspicion of DUI in 2010. He was suspended in October 2008 after testing positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol following a loss to Michael Bisping at UFC 89 and again in 2010 after testing positive for oxymorhpine and oxycodone after a defeat to Mark Munoz at UFC 138.

More recently, the 35-year-old was sentenced to 120 days in jail in jail and three years of probation for an alleged attempt to break in to his estranged wife’s residence. Leben pleaded guilty to felony possession of an assault weapon and misdemeanor counts of vandalism and violating a temporary restraining order.

Leben is the latest in a string of notable signings this week for the California-based promotion. Bellator inked former UFC and WEC lightweight champion Benson Henderson to a multi-fight deal on Monday and announced that he will receive a welterweight title shot against Andrey Koreshkov in April. One day later, the company signed Strikeforce and Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight Sergei Kharitonov to an exclusive contract.


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