Chris Leben's reckless brawling style has been extremely entertaining for mixed martial arts fans for several years. He has an excellent chin and has no fear of taking a punch. This combined with his heavy hands has been the source of the majority of his success in the octagon. However, a fighter can only take so much punishment before it begins to catch up with him. Many times in sports, brain trauma can become evident over time. A lot of the time, this sort of trauma can become noticeable based on an athletes speech pattern. A recent example of this would be what we witnessed in James Toney's interviews. A man that grew up in America speaking english needed the use of subtitles to help viewers understand what he was trying to say. This is amazing considering the fact that most english-speaking Brazilians don't even need subtitles.
Now I'm no doctor, but I think that we can all agree that Toney's speaking ability likely deteriorated due to the many strikes he absorbed in the boxing ring. In the fight hype for UFC 125, Chris Leben sounded different to me. He seemed slightly slower and words didn't flow as easily as they once did. Not many people have really seemed to notice this, but it certainly sounded that way to me. Chris took a ton of punishment in his fight with Yoshihiro Akiyama. So much that he was quoted at the post fight press conference as not even remembering the entire fight. I am a big Chris Leben fan and I really hope that the punishment hasn't caught up with him, but it looks like it could be that way. Thoughts?
Before fighting Akiyama
UFC 125 hype video (contains Chris' most recent interview starting at 4:44)