"You have to fight that war on all fronts, internal work with my thought patterns and my old ways of dealing with issues and problems," he said. "At the same time, there are situations I've had to remove myself from. A lot of good people I know that are still friends of mine, but they know we can't hang out because they're living that other life. The best thing for me is to not be around that. There are certain places I don't choose to go. If my friends are going to a bar instead of a restaurant, or a restaurant that is more of a bar, I don't go."
Since that time, he's gotten treatment for deep seated emotional problems that he would medicate himself away from addressing. He feels younger, lighter and in better shape. The time off has healed his injuries, but left him in rough shape financially.
"You really don't know what you have until it's taken away," he said. "This was truly a blessing in disguise. I had that invaluable time I needed for my personal life. I do miss competing. I miss getting in there. I miss training for a fight and missed the paydays as well. I have a different mindset. I'm much more clearheaded. But with that comes different issues. There's more anxiety, more nerves, questions on how I'm going to perform. I'm trying to make that a positive thing, to push myself harder, to be more ready."
While a lot of UFC fans still think of Leben as the guy who got out control in the early episodes of The Ultimate Fighter, Leben noted that was eight years ago and he's moved past that era.
"I certainly am tired of hearing about p***ing on (Jason) Thacker's bed, or when people ask me, `When are you going to fight Josh Koscheck,'" he said. "That was seven, eight years ago. It's over."
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