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Chris Leben coming out of retirement to fight Phil Baroni in bare knuckle match

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Chris Leben (Esther Lin)
Chris Leben is coming out of retirement.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

“The Crippler” is back.

Longtime UFC veteran Chris Leben is coming out of retirement to fight fellow Octagon veteran Phil Baroni on Oct. 20 in a bare-knuckle boxing match with the World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation in Casper, Wyoming.

Both fighters confirmed the booking to MMA Fighting on Tuesday following an announcement by the promotion.

UFC Veteran Chris "The Crippler" Leban Signs with WBKFF

Posted by Bare Knuckle Wbkff on Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Leben (22-11) hung up his gloves in December 2013 following a memorable eight-year run with the UFC. The Oregon native briefly attempted an MMA comeback with Bellator in 2016, but ultimately was unable to do so due to the discovery of a heart condition.

Now 37 years old, Leben ended his career losing five of his final six fights, but overall enjoyed a largely successful Octagon career that began on The Ultimate Fighter 1 and included stoppage victories over Wanderlei Silva, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Jorge Santiago, and Jorge Rivera. Regarded as a fan-favorite, “The Crippler” collected six post-fight bonuses during his time, and also captured the WEC middleweight title.

Baroni (16-18), meanwhile, ended his own multi-year layoff earlier this year with a 24-second knockout victory over Matt Lagler at a King of the Cage event.

A well-traveled 42-year-old veteran with nearly two decades of experience, Baroni has competed for virtually every major promotion under the sun — the UFC, Pride FC, Elite XC, Strikeforce, DREAM, Bellator, ONE Championship — while battling a who’s who of names in the sport. His résumé includes contests against the likes of Frank Shamrock, Karo Parisyan, Brad Tavares, Kazuo Misaki, Dave Menne, among many others.