Almost five years after his last fight, former UFC middleweight Chris Leben will come out of retirement to fight Phil Baroni in a bare-knuckle boxing match for the World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation, which is separate from the recently launched Bare Knuckle FC.
The World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation (WBKFF) will host its inaugural event on October 20th in Casper, Wyoming. Following an initial announcement from the promotion, MMA Fighting confirmed the matchup with both Leben and Baroni.
Leben (22-11) last fought in December 2013, when he was defeated by Uriah Hall at UFC 168. He announced his retirement from MMA competition the following month. “The Crippler” has not won a professional fight in over seven years, with his last win being a first round knockout over Wanderlei Silva at UFC 132. In February 2016, Leben signed with Bellator MMA, but he was not cleared to ever fight for the promotion after failing several electrocardiogram (EKG) tests. Leben told MMAjunkie about how his health has improved after the diagnosis of a severe heart condition, which doctors noted that “the blood flow through is heart is only 18 percent of what is considered normal.”
“For the last three years, I’ve been sober, and I’ve also been on an organic supplement regimen that my boss at (Arena MMA) put me on,” Leben said. “Things like raw cayenne pepper, raw garlic powder, turmeric, wheatgrass – I take about 20 different powders a day, a couple times a day.”
Baroni (16-18) has had two stints for the UFC during his MMA career, but “The New York Bad Ass,” who famously proclaimed himself as “The best eva!” after knocking out Dave Menne, failed to ever compile a winning streak for the promotion and finished with a UFC record of 3-7. The 42-year-old has fought for several different MMA promotions during his lengthy career, most recently making his debut for King of the Cage in May, when he picked up a 24-second knockout win over Matt Lagler.
No other fights have yet been announced for the WBKFF’s debut card on October 20th.