Nick Hutchings: Your stand-up, brawler fighting style is one that can take its toll on a fighter. Do you ever think about changing to extend your career?
Chris Leben: I started changing my style after the Anderson Silva fight [UFNt 5 in 2006] when it became pretty obvious that I couldn't go out all guns blazing and expect to beat elite fighters. I neded to pick my shots better and have a more adaptable game. My coach Burt Richardson has really helped with this – he's got me to mix up my striking with more technical brawling and my ground game, which despite what some people think has always been pretty good. It took me a while to get a handle on these changes – I lost a couple of fights after Silva, but it's really paying off now, I feel as if I'm a more technical fighter and can respond quicker and more intelligently than before.
NH: What would you do differently if you got another shot at Anderson Silva?
CL: Take my time – that was my original game plan but I didn't stick to it and went full-on at him. Also, when I fought him it was his first fight in the UFC and I didn't really know what to expect. Now we all know what how he fights and how to be more effective against him. Chael Sonnen, who's a good friend of mine and is the owner of the best double-leg takedown in MMA, showed how you can get at him [Sonnen fought Silva at UFC 117]. I'm not as good a takedown artist as him but my striking game is better so I'd mix the two, as well as generally being more patient.
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