Chris Leben has been retired for a little less than a month now. And in that time he's been lauded for his longstanding toughness and grit and the competitive drive that made him one of the UFC's longest standing fighters. Unfortunately, he's also talked about his problems with drug addiction and the financial situation that they left him in. Now it appears that he's turning his eye on the UFC as well, as the object of his money woes. Leben took to Twitter on Sunday to voice his desire that he had chosen a different career path than that of UFC fighter:
I wish I would've drove truck last 10yrs, then at least is have insurance to see a counselor. Ufc left me broken with nithing— Chris Leben (@cripplerufc) February 16, 2014
That's a hell of a regret after nearly a decade of work under the same organization. And while he has no one but himself to blame for his current financial situation, his complaints about a lack of post-career health care coverage should not fall on deaf ears. The NFL has some baseline retirement plans (5 years of coverage) in place for players that stay in the league longer than three seasons and even that is considered by many to be far too little for the amount of punishment they will endure over the lifespan of their competitive career, however long it may last. I realize that it's mostly only the UFC that's drawing comparisons to itself and the NFL at the moment, but if it's a comparison they want to draw, these are provisions they might want to include.
For fighters like Leben, who competed for the UFC for an extended period of time, it seems like an extension of benefits, even for only a few years after the end of their time under the Zuffa umbrella would be an eventual necessity. Sports such as these, that ask so much physically of the people who engage in them, should make some provision for the fact that many of their athletes will incur injuries that last them well past their competitive careers. Leben may not have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to his financial woes, but his concerns over a lack of medical provision are fairly justified.
Update: Leben released a second tweet not long after his first in which he explained that the loss of his family dog recently was the cause of his previous statement.
I lost my dog and fucking lost it! Sorry please disregard my prev tweet! He was a family member:(— Chris Leben (@cripplerufc) February 17, 2014
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