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Chris Leben Says His Sobriety Gave Him Focus

December 18, 2012 | Posted by Joseph Lee

In an interview with MMA Junkie, Chris Leben (22-8 MMA, 12-7 UFC) says his sobriety has given him new focus as he prepares to fight Karlos Vemola (9-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC) at UFC 155 in a middleweight fight. Here are highlights:

On his training camp: “This is the best training camp ever. I have more energy and feel stronger now than when I started my pro MMA career. I have changed a lot of things in the past months: my camp, management, diet, attitude. And, most importantly, I’m sober now. I have a good UFC record, … but now my focus is on the future. I’m coming back stronger than ever and in my best mindset.”

On his sobriety: “It’s a one-day-at-a-time kind of thing. It’s definitely not in the past for me. I’d be lying to you if I told you the thoughts weren’t there – if stress doesn’t get high and start raising in my life, and instantly my natural reaction is to look for the easy way out. And I don’t think that’s going away anytime soon – absolutely not. Does that mean there’s something wrong with me? No. That just means I’m an addict, and I had an issue. I’m trying to change years and years and years of a behavior and a thought process. As long as I don’t entertain those thoughts – I try to shift my mind – and as long as I continue to make the right progress, I think it’s OK. I think the test is what I need, and every day I wake up without a hangover, I get a little bit stronger.”

On facing Vemola: “I’m not overlooking Vemola as opponent,” Leben said. “He is a strong, big guy, but I will finish this fight. This fight will be a clear message that I’m coming for people’s heads in the middleweight division.”

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Joseph Lee

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