The light at the end of the tunnel is finally visible for Chris Leben.
His year-long suspension nearing its conclusion, “The Crippler” has agreed to meet Karlos Vemola at UFC 155, promotion officials announced on Wednesday.
UFC 155 takes place December 29, 2012, one month after the expiration of Leben’s suspension. A heavyweight title rematch pitting Junior dos Santos against Cain Velasquez is expected to be the night’s main event.
Leben (22-8) last fought in November of 2011, falling to Mark Munoz via second-round TKO in the headlining bout of UFC 138. Following the event, the 32-year-old tested positive for prescription painkillers oxycodone and oxymorphone — the second failed drug test of Leben’s career — leading UFC President Dana White to hand down the one-year penalty.
“I’ve battled with (drugs and alcohol) for my entire life,” Leben admitted in a candid interview on The MMA Hour midway through his suspension. “I’ve had an issue with being addicted to painkillers for years now. I had some issues with my camp and it was almost a cry for help. I knew I was going to get caught and I just didn’t care at the time. I’m extremely embarrassed. I feel like I let down the UFC, but at the same time I think getting caught is probably the best thing to ever happen to me. The UFC has been unbelievable, they sent me to a rehab facility and they really took care of me.”
Prior to his relapse, Leben rolled to four victories in five fights, including impressive finishes of Wanderlei Silva, Yoshihiro Akiyama and Aaron Simpson.
Now he’ll meet Vemola (9-3), a former light heavyweight sporting a 1-1 UFC record since dropping down to 185 pounds. The Czech wrestling champion defeated Mike Massenzio via second-round rear-naked choke at UFC on FOX 3, before losing to Francis Carmont in the exact same fashion two months later.
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