5 YRS AGO – IN THE NEWS: Chris Leben suspended, Bader says Henderson might solve Jon Jones, Benson Henderson talks 170 move, Jose seeks help for Mendes

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch editor-in-chief

Benson Henderson (art credit Grant Gould © MMATorch)

Five years ago this week, these four stories were in the news on MMATorch.com…

UFC Featherweight Champ Jose Aldo looking to enlist Gray Maynard to prepare for Chad Mendes

UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo has a very tough test ahead of him in his next Title defense, as he’ll take on undefeated wrestling powerhouse Chad Mendes at UFC 142 in Brazil. In preparation for such a dominant top control opponent, Aldo and his camp are extending an invitation to two-time UFC Lightweight Title challenger Gray Maynard to come train with the Champ. In an interview with Sherdog.com last week, Aldo talked about bringing Maynard in, as well as his joy at being in the main event in his home country this January:

“We have a big interest in bringing Maynard to train with me. He has such strong wrestling (base) and we want people that (have) the same game Chad Mendes does. Mendes is a competitive and hard guy to fight. Me and Maynard have been in touch since UFC 136, and he also said it’s his will to train with us at Nova Uniao, but nothing is confirmed thus far, especially because of the Thanksgiving holiday. I’m waiting for the answer…

It’s gonna be great to fight here in Rio, even more being the main event. I’ve been asking Dana White and he promised me a main event. The time has come and nothing is better to be here in Brazil, where I was born and raised. I’m really looking forward to this day.”

Ben Henderson wants to be synonymous with the lightweight division, but 170 lb. move may be in future

UFC Lightweight Title challenger Ben Henderson is singularly focused on becoming the best fighter in the lightweight division. But that doesn’t mean 155 lbs. will be his home forever. In an interview with MMAWeekly.com, Henderson said he’ll eventually tire of the weight cut and pursue a run at welterweight:

“155 is my weight class and I’m going to own it. I want 55 to be synonymous with myself, I want to be synonymous with the 55-pound weight class, but that being said, the older you are the harder it is to cut weight. I’m getting a little bit older now and cutting weight sucks… There’s a few guys who’ve said things pretty similar as far as cutting weight when you get older, how hard it is. Dan [Henderson] is a perfect example. He’s wrestled forever. I wrestled and cut weight six months, seven months out of the year since I was 12 years old. It’s kind of getting old. I don’t like it so much anymore… It is hard on the body. People don’t realize how much of a factor it is.”

Ryan Bader thinks Dan Henderson may be the one to topple Jon Jones

UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones has torn through his competition in the UFC, making it look easy against world-class opposition. He looks to defend his title against Lyoto Machida at UFC 140, and if he gets past yet another former champion in the division, he’ll enter 2012 with a couple of potential challengers lined up. His former opponent Ryan Bader, in comments made to MMAWeekly.com, says he believes one of those potential opponents may just be the man to take Jones out:

“Maybe [Dan] Henderson [is the guy to beat Jones]. Looking at his last fight, he’s not gonna go away. Shogun and Henderson looked like zombies out there, knocking each other out… I think it’s gonna take a big puncher. It’s a guy that’s gonna throw at him and doesn’t respect him really. I think Henderson could be that guy… That’s what the thing is, people respect Jon Jones too much. They respect his skills, and rightfully so, but it’s a guy that says ‘screw it, I’m gonna try and go out there and knock your head off.’ It could be Dan.”

UFC suspends Chris Leben for one year following failed drug test at UFC 138

When Chris Leben fought Michael Bisping in Birmingham, England at UFC 89 in 2008, he was suspended for a year when he tested positive for steroids. Fast forward three years, and Leben has been suspended for a year once again after a fight in Birmingham.

The UFC announced on Monday that they have suspended Leben for a year following a positive test for the painkillers Oxycodone and Oxymorphone after his fight with Mark Munoz at UFC 138.

“I like Chris and I want him to do well, but based on his actions, he’s been suspended for one year,” UFC President Dana White said in a statement. “If he needs professional help, we are going to be there for him. We want to see him succeed not only in the Octagon, but in his personal life.”

“I would like to make it known that I fully accept this suspension and apologize for embarrassing the UFC, my friends and family, and sport of mixed martial arts,” Leben said. “I’m learning that I’m my own worst enemy sometimes. I can’t succeed in the Octagon or in life behaving this way. I’ve got to make some real changes over the next year and I’m going to focus on getting my life and career back on track. Again, I’m sorry to the UFC and fans that’ve supported me since my days on The Ultimate Fighter.”

Penick’s Analysis: Sadly this isn’t the least bit surprising. It’s another in a long line of issues that Leben has had throughout his professional career. Whether it’s been steroids, painkillers, DUIs, arrests, he hasn’t seemed to learn from his past mistakes, and here he is in this situation again. The abundance of painkiller issues is very widespread, not just in MMA, but in all sports, and out of sports as well. Considering the battles Leben has been in throughout his career, this is a very big concern when the painkiller issue is brought in as well. I sincerely hope Leben can get some help to deal with any potential issues that may come about from the painkiller use, but this may ultimately be the end of his time in the UFC.

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