Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images

Chris Leben is still in the fight of his life, but things appear to be looking up.

The retired UFC veteran and original The Ultimate Fighter cast member posted an Instagram video from his hospital bed late Sunday night providing an update on the current status of his health. Leben has been hospitalized since the beginning of February due to complications from COVID-19, but said that he’s optimistic about the direction his health has taken over recent days and hopes to eventually make a full recovery.

“What took the most damage, for sure, is my lungs,” Leben said. “They did say 100 percent of my lungs are damaged, but they also said 100 percent recovery is possible, and I think that’s what’s going to happen. It’s going to take some time, start out slow, but I’m still alive, man. I’m still here. And for that, I’m so grateful. The fact that I get to fight my way back to 100 percent health, that I have that opportunity, is such a blessing. When you’re where I was, and you’re where I’m at now, I’ll tell you what, you count everything as a blessing.”

Leben, 41, retired from combat sports in February 2021 following a first-round knockout win over Quentin Henry at BKFC Knucklemania. Known by his nickname “The Crippler,” he competed 22 times in the UFC following his breakout performance on TUF 1, winning 12 bouts over notable names such as Wanderlei Silva and Patrick Cote, facing an array of contenders and future champions alike such as Michael Bisping and Anderson Silva, and ultimately becoming a fan favorite for his penchant for all-out brawls.

Leben won three of his last four bouts, all in bare-knuckle boxing, before calling it quits.

He indicated Sunday that he still isn’t out of the woods yet, but expressed gratitude for everyone who has supported him during one of the most difficult months of his life.

“I wouldn’t wish it on anybody,” Leben said. “But I learned a lot from this experience, and I’ll be back 100 percent. It might take a year, but at least I’m alive, so what’s a year? If I was dead, I wouldn’t have the opportunity.”

Full video and quotes of Leben’s latest health update can be seen below.

What up, everybody? So that flashing blue number up there is my oxygen. It’s going back up now — 91, 92. It was down to 82 a second ago because I just got done trying to go to the bathroom. But yeah, I feel pretty good. I’m off all the other things, I’ve got no tubes in my body at all right now. The only thing is this oxygen. I think that’s what took the most damage, for sure, is my lungs. They did say 100 percent of my lungs are damaged, but they also said 100 percent recovery is possible, and I think that’s what’s going to happen. It’s going to take some time, start out slow, but I’m still alive, man. I’m still here. And for that, I’m so grateful. The fact that I get to fight my way back to 100 percent health, that I have that opportunity, is such a blessing. When you’re where I was, and you’re where I’m at now, I’ll tell you what, you count everything as a blessing — even this crappy hospital food, even this jello, blessings.

I’ll tell you, I learned a lot. I learned a lot. It’s not that I’m scared to die. It’s that I’m in love with life, and I have so much to live for. I have a beautiful child and a thriving new business, and I have family, and I have the greatest, closest friends in the world, that all came together and showed me how much they cared about me during this trying time. So, yeah — don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t recommend everybody go through this so they can have a sense of gratitude. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. But I learned a lot from this experience, and I’ll be back 100 percent. It might take a year, but at least I’m alive, so what’s a year? If I was dead, I wouldn’t have the opportunity.

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