One round into his five round fight with Mark Munoz, Chris Leben looked like he was ready to keel over and die. It’s pretty fortunate that the fight was stopped between rounds 2 and 3 on a cut because according to Fighters Only, Leben dropped enough weight last second that dying was a distinct possibility:

Chris Leben cut nearly 21 pounds in 24 hours to make weight for his fight with Mark Munoz, Fighters Only was told ahead of last night’s bout.

The 31-year old middleweight had “a terrible weight cut” and was in such bad shape before the weigh ins that medical staff were keeping a very close eye on him.

A source close to Leben told Fighters Only on Friday that Leben had been left “shattered” by the amount of weight he had to cut on weigh-in day.

He was in the hotel sauna from Friday morning hooded up and wearing layers of clothing as he sweated water out of his body.

His dehydration and general condition was such that one of the medical team backstage said Leben would be pulled from the fight if thing deteriorated any further.

21 pounds isn’t an unusually high amount of weight for a fighter to cut, but most prefer to do it over the course of a few weeks so they still have enough fluids to keep their organs working and brains protected.

I know, I know. Every time I write a blog about stupid weight cuts I joke about livers screaming “Nooooooo!” and brains bouncing off the insides of skulls. But this isn’t some theoretical possibility. If I was a betting man (and betting was actually allowed in this bastion of freedom we call North America), I’d bet the first death in the UFC will involve someone who cut way too much way too fast.

I won’t bother you with all the grisly downer stories of amateur wrestlers suffering heart attacks or rhabdomyolysis. You can read all about that here and here. You can also get a little look into how our bud Mark Hominick cuts weight properly over at our sister site MMA Training.

All this info certainly puts Saturday’s main event into a new perspective. And I’m sure Thiago Alves will be happy to know people will probably stop giving him guff for nearly missing weight again. At least his diet guru Mike Dolce seems to know what he’s doing. Maybe Leben should give him a call because whatever is going on behind the scenes in Hawaii just ain’t working. It might have cost him the fight on Saturday … and more importantly his life.

(pic via the UFC’s excellent UFC 138 gallery)