clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

‘I was ready to tap out’ - UFC vet Chris Leben was on life support due to ‘horrible’ COVID-19 bout

Original The Ultimate Fighter contestant fought a serious battle against COVID-19.

Chris Leben left the UFC in 2013.
Chris Leben left the UFC in 2013.
Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images

One of the contestants in the original season of The Ultimate Fighter has been fighting a grueling battle against COVID-19. After being infected for the second time, Chris Leben was hospitalized earlier this month and gave an interview to San Diego’s ABC 10news from his hospital bed.

Although doctors are optmistic about Leben’s recovery, the ‘Crippler’ knows he still has quite a way to go before he can feel healthy again. After needing to be put on a ventiator and fearing for his life, Leben described some of the thoughts that went through his head during the scary process.

“It was horrible. It was like I was drowning, and just fighting for a breath, I was ready to tap out, and the reason was I didn’t tap is because of my child … If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have had the fight to get through those days,”

Now that Leben has been removed from life support, which makes him grateful to be alive, he believes that a recovery could be possibile. However, Chris says that severe damage was already done to his lungs due to the virus.

“Everything is damaged and scarred 100%, (I will) Fight my way back to 100%. To have that opportunity, it’s such a blessing,” Leben said.

According to the same interview, Chris declined to discuss his vaccination status.

During his UFC career, Leben (22-12) scored wins over notable names from his time, such as Wanderlei Silva, Patrick Cote and Yoshihiro Akiyama, among others. After being released from the UFC in 2013, the 41-year-old did not compete in mixed martial arts anymore.

However, Chris started competing in bare knuckle boxing in 2018, where he amassed a 4-1 record, with the latest bout being a February 2021 KO win over Quentin Henry. Following the victory, he announced his retirement from combat sports.