In all likelihood, WEC 47 marked the end of the illustrious career of one of MMA’s true legends. After submitting to Javier Vasquez in the first round of their featherweight bout, former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver told the Columbus, Ohio crowd that he would probably be hanging up his gloves for good.
Despite losing five consecutive fights, “Lil Evil” will always be remembered for being one of the all time greats. Let’s take a look back at the ten best moments in the career of one of the true ambassadors of MMA.
Joe Stevenson- Bas Rutten Invitational 3 (4/24/1999)
After dabbling in underground fighting events while in college, Pulver was introduced to sanctioned mixed martial arts in 1999. He made his debut as part of the Bas Rutten Invitational in Littleton, Colorado, beating Curtis Hill into a first round corner stoppage.
Pulver finished both of his opponents in the first round. One of those victories was a crushing knockout over a young Joe “Daddy” Stevenson. Conversely, then-UFC matchmaker John Perretti was in attendance and shortly after the event signed Pulver to the UFC.
John Lewis- UFC 28 (11/17/2000)
It took Pulver a mere 15 seconds to dispose of John Lewis. The victory went down in the record books as one of the fastest knockouts in UFC history and introduced fans and fighters to his powerful left hook.
Caol Uno- UFC 30 (2/23/2001)
After his quick win over Lewis, Pulver was recruited to fight Caol Uno to determine the first ever bantamweight (later renamed lightweight) champion. Uno was coming off a devastating knockout over Rumina Sato and thought to be a heavy favorite against Pulver.
“Lil Evil” frustrated the Japanese grappler by stuffing all takedown attempts and pressing the action on the feet. Pulver earned the majority decision and the inaugural lightweight championship in the process.
Dennis Hallman- UFC 33 (9/28/2001)
Pulver’s first title defense would come against Dennis Hallman, the man who submitted his teammate Matt Hughes on two separate occasions. Pulver and Hallman were both Washington State wrestling champions in high school and according to Hallman there was bad blood between the two, which Pulver denied.
In the fight, Hallman came very close to submitting Jens with an armbar. But Pulver fought through and outworked Hallman to a unanimous decision victory, successfully defending his championship.
B.J Penn- UFC 35 (1/11/2002)
Although Pulver was the reigning champion, he was considered to be a 10-1 underdog against the Hawaiian. Fans believed Penn was unbeatable and would stomp Pulver the same way he had dominated his previous three opponents.
Pulver proved the critics wrong, pouring it on Penn in the later rounds to earn the majority decision in a classic fight.
Stephen Palling- Shooto Hawaii (7/9/2004)
Pulver traveled to the fighting island of Hawaii to take on home crowd favorite Stephen Palling. The bout was a back and forth standup war that Pulver describes to this day as the “toughest fight of his career.”
It truly was a classic brawl which Pulver finished in the third round courtesy of his trademark left hand.
Takanori Gomi-PRIDE Shockwave 2004 (12/31/2004)
After leaving the UFC and vacating his lightweight throne, Pulver opted to compete for the Japanese based PRIDE Fighting Championships. His first fight under the PRIDE banner was contested against number one ranked lightweight Takanori Gomi.
Gomi knocked Pulver out, but he put up a valiant effort impressing promoters and fans alike with his toughness and striking ability.
The Ultimate Fighter Season 5: Team Penn vs. Team Pulver (4/5/2007- 6/23/2007)
Pulver and Penn were brought in as coaches for season five of the Ultimate Fighter which featured a cast of sixteen lightweight competitors. The two pioneers of the 155-lbs weight class did not see eye to eye since their first fight and were set to square off again at the season’s finale.
As a coach, Pulver blew Penn out of the water. He was an excellent mentor to the young guys on his team and truly excelled at preparing his fighters for battle. Unfortunately he was unable to carry over that success against Penn in their rematch and was submitted in the second round.
Cub Swanson- WEC 31 (12/12/2007)
After being choked out by Penn at The Ultimate Finale, Pulver dropped down to 145-lbs to compete in the WEC’s featherweight division. Swanson was on an eleven fight winning streak and was talking a lot of trash heading into his fight with Pulver.
“Lil Evil” forced Swanson into submission via a tight guillotine choke in the first round.
Urijah Faber- WEC 34 (6/1/2008)
After his submission victory over Swanson, Pulver was matched up with WEC poster boy Urijah Faber for the WEC featherweight championship. The bout was billed as the greatest featherweight fight in history and it certainly lived up to expectations.
Although the decision did not go in his favor, Pulver went five rounds with Faber, a man that was considered untouchable at the time.