Chris Leben's MMA career could be over -- and definitely, at the very least, on hold -- due to a health issue.
Despite a recent agreement to make a comeback with Bellator, Leben will no longer be competing for the organization due to a heart ailment, the former UFC star confirmed with MMA Fighting via email.
"Not gonna be able to make a comeback in Bellator at least for the foreseeable future," Leben wrote. "I'm in good spirits. I feel great. Unfortunately, the heart issue has sidelined me."
Last month, Bellator MMA president Scott Coker announced that Leben had decided to come out of retirement to compete for his organization, pending physical examinations. Now, that will not happen.
"We are saddened to hear of Chris Leben's current health situation and would have loved to see him compete inside the Bellator cage," Coker said in a statement. "A fighter's health and safety is of the utmost importance to us as an organization. We wish Chris the best in his future endeavors and we are happy to help provide a platform for him to share his story with people around the world."
According to a statement obtained by MMAjunkie from Leben's management, multiple EKG exams the slugger took showed a "life-threatening" heart abnormality. The Swedish website MMANYTT first reported the news Tuesday.
Leben, a longtime former UFC fighter, has lived a very difficult life, including bouts with drug and alcohol addiction as well as "medical and psychological issues," the statement read. Leben chronicles many of those issues in his recently released autobiography.
Leben told MMA Fighting that he was not aware of any statement sent out by his manager and did not respond to a question asking if the contents of the statement were true.
"The Crippler" has had multiple run-ins with the law in the past, including arrests for suspicion of DUI and a recent 120-day jail stint following his breaking into a home he used to share with his estranged wife. Leben has tested positive and been suspended twice for performance-enhancing drug use.
Despite all the personal demons, Leben was a huge fan favorite in the UFC. He competed on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter and didn't step away from the Octagon until retiring in 2013. Along the way, the Portland native and San Diego resident picked up wins over the likes of Wanderlei Silva, Patrick Cote, Mike Swick and Yoshihiro Akiyama.