The headlining UFC 162 preliminary card matchup pits middleweight slugger Chris Leben (22-9 MMA, 11-8 UFC) against Andrew Craig (8-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC). Leben has gone two years without a win and has also failed a drug test. Craig saw his early undefeated MMA record come to an end in January.
This is a must win for Leben and a big opportunity for Craig to record a win over the biggest name of his career. You can catch the UFC 162 prelims on FX beginning at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT, and then after Joe Rogan and Dana White yell at you for a few minutes, go watch the PPV main card at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT.
How do these two stack up?
Leben: 32 years old | 5'11" | 70.5" reach
Craig: 27 years old | 6'1" | 76" reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
"The Crippler" is one of the original members of The Ultimate Fighter, best known for his wild and exciting brawls, his knockout power, and granite chin. In recent times those traits have seemingly disappeared, as he was finished by Brian Stann and Mark Munoz and beaten in an ugly mess of a fight with Derek Brunson. His cardio has been troublesome, his punches are coming at a slower pace (not that he was ever fast to begin with), and continues to absorb a tremendous amount of punishment. He still poses a threat on the feet and has proven before that he can submit opponents from his back, and he'll need to conjure up an improved performance to avoid his first ever 3 fight losing streak.
Craig came into the UFC as a short notice replacement against Kyle Noke at UFC on FX 2 in Australia. The Texan earned a decision win in enemy territory in March 2012, and three months later he rallied to knockout veteran Rafael Natal with a head kick and punches in San Jose. Craig's push for a 3-0 start came up short, as hulking Brazilian Ronny Markes defended his home turf and beat him by unanimous decision in Sao Paulo. Andrew is a brown belt in BJJ who has good wrestling skills, but as he showed in the Natal fight he is no slouch on the feet.
Why should you care?
Craig's career could be on the ascendancy despite his loss while Leben is looking more and more like a shopworn fighter. We could be seeing the end of Leben in the UFC with a loss tonight.