Chris Leben is not a newcomer to MMA. His career has come full circle numerous times already.

However, when he steps inside the Octagon against Mark Munoz Saturday night in the main event of UFC 138, Leben knows that he can showcase himself to a wide audience, and maybe land a 2012 shot at UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva in the process.

Leben, who went a perfect 3-0 in 2010, is 1-1 so far in 2011, including a knockout victory over Wanderlei Silva. His loss came at the hands of Brian Stann, who is also one of the top contenders at middleweight.

“It hasn’t been hard because I’ve been real motivated,” said Leben, in a recent interview with UFC’s website. “Winning against Wanderlei reminds me what I can accomplish if I put my mind to it, and how dangerous it is to let your guard down in this sport. I did that a little bit against Stann and I paid for it, so with Munoz, we’ve definitely been training harder than ever.”

Leben believes his experience will help push him past Munoz in this scheduled five-round affair. The match will be the first under the new system where all UFC main events are five rounds, regardless of it being a title fight or not.

“I think he’s still probably got a little bit of a ways to go, and I hope to exploit some of those holes in his game,” Leben said. “I’ve seen him get rocked and I’ve seen him stay in it and come back from being close to out and win those fights. I know that he’s gonna refuse to lose, so I’m gonna have to put him away.”


MMATraining Take: The odds of this scheduled five-round fight going the distance is slim-to-none. Both men prefer to stand and bang, so someone is going to get knocked out. Both men will likely put on a show that will help the winner move up the UFC middleweight pecking order.