by MMAWeekly Radio – Jeff Cain
Jens ‘Little Evil’ Pulver returns to the Pride ring after a seven-month leave of absence from Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) competition following his Pride: ‘Bushido The Tournament’ loss to Hayato Sakurai in September of last year. Pulver takes on Masakazu Imanair April 2nd, and is scheduled to fight Cole ‘The Apache Kid’ Escovedo on April 29th, in the International Fight League’s (IFL) debut event. Pulver spoke with MMAWeekly Radio, prior to departing for Japan, about his fight with Imanair this weekend and his IFL bout with Escovedo at the end of the month.
“I’m excited to fight twice in one month. I like staying busy. The busier I can be the better. I like to get in that ring. This is what I do. I don’t like sitting out for eight months.” Jens Pulver told MMAWeekly Radio.
Discussing his Bushido opponent, Masakazu Imanair, Pulver said, “I guess he’s the greatest leg-locker there ever is. When it comes to leg locks, there is nobody better. I know he’s extremely awkward. He likes to come at you backwards. He cartwheels around. He flips around. He butt-scoots. It is pretty annoying to fight him. I mean, it is a real hard style to go against. But you have to respect it because if he gets a hold of your leg, not too many people get away from it. He is extremely good at what he does. You’ve just got to figure out how to get away from it and implement your game plan in the process.”
Pulver has trained in his usual fashion to prepare for this fight. Jens generically spoke about his game plan. He said, “Ultimately, I just can’t get pulled into his game. I know people have tried to run after him with a flying knee and he catches their leg on the way down and submits them anyway. You just can’t get frustrated with a guy like that. That is what he is after. He is after you to get out there and get annoyed by the fact that he is walking at you backwards and anything that he can do so he can do to jump on that leg. You’ve just got to take your time and not get sucked in by the game he is playing, the mental game he is trying to play. Pick your shots and keep your legs safe really.”
Asked about Imanair’s standup, Jens commented, “I don’t think it is anything other than to try and grab a hold of your leg. I mean he can defend himself. I haven’t seen too much actual stand up, maybe a punch here or there. But really all he is after is, you can try to swat him in the butt or something when he comes backwards; he literally just balls up on your leg. That is all he wants, to get a hold of is your leg. When he does, he is usually pretty good at finishing the fight.”
As previously mentioned, Jens will fight twice in the month of April. If everything goes well on the 2nd in Japan against Imanair, Pulver will face Cole ‘The Apache Kid’ Escovedo on the 29th, on the IFL’s debut card in Atlantic City. Questioned if he was concerned about fighting twice just weeks apart, Jens said, “No. I’m not worried about it. I mean, what happens, happens. I can’t expect anything like that to happen. I want to assume everything is going to go well. You know? I want to assume I’m going to be healthy and ready to go for that fight. Provided everything goes as planned, I’m excited . . . Minor injuries, Okay, I can deal with. Hopefully nothing serious, and I can get out there and get past, not look past this fight, but I want to get through this fight still healthy enough to turn around and fight again on the 29th.”
Ideally, fighters like to “peak” in their physical fitness at the time of a scheduled bout. Can a fighter “peak” and then do it again three weeks later? When questioned, Pulver answered, “The biggest thing is you can’t peak for anyone fight. If I peak too hard then I’ll be burned out for the 29th. The tough part about staying this busy is you can never fully go 100% for one fight because you need to make sure there is something left in the tank for three weeks later. I’m not 100% condition wise going into this. I’m healthy. I’m ready to go. I’m ready to fight, but I’ve got to make sure that I’m still feeling, you know, that I’m not too beat up so when three weeks rolls around I’m still able to train intensely up to that fight as well. That is the one thing you hope going into it; man I hope this isn’t the hardest fight I’m about to have in my life because in three weeks I’ve got to turn around and do it again. You kind of hope that 85-90% that you can go in there with is enough. And that is kind of on the back of my mind. You know? I don’t get to train, I’m not going 100% as far as training for this fight simply because I want to make sure I still have something left in the tank on the 29th. I try to keep myself from being too beat up. Normally, if this is the only fight I have to look forward to and I don’t have to fight again anytime in the near future, I’ll train and beat my body senseless. I’ll train as hard as I can and just prepare myself for that one fight. But circumstances have it that I’m going to be fighting again in three weeks, so I want to make sure I have something left.”
Pulver is a Pride fighter, yet he is fighting for the IFL in late April. Asked about his contract situation with Pride and his status with the IFL, Jens responded, “I still have a contract with Pride. I was always planning on being a commentator for the IFL. And these are the perks, I guess, for being a commentator for the IFL is I get to fight. If my manager says it is good, and he books me a fight I fight. I don’t really worry about that. I let Monet [Cox] handle that. As far as I know they’re both on good standing. Nobody has called and got mad at me yet, so I think it’s a good thing. I think they support each other, and they don’t have a problem with it. As long as I”m there to perform for Pride, Pride doesn’t have a problem for me fighting for the IFL. As long as the IFL understands that I have to fight for Pride than so far it has worked it.”
Although Jens will be fighting on the IFL’s inaugural fight card in a super fight match and trains with Pat Miletich, who coaches the IFL team ‘Silver Backs,’ Pulver is not a part of Miletich’s IFL team. “When this all started I was strictly a commentator. I’m going into the production side of fighting. You know, that whole have something to do when I’m done punching. I’m excited to do the commentating. I’m excited to travel around, interview the teams, and hang out with the fighters, the coaches. I’m pretty happy with my place within the IFL. I hope the best for the show. The ideas are great. The people that are running it are great. They’re good for the sport. I think it’s a good addition to have to MMA. I’m just excited to be on the production side. No. No team for me. I’ve been asked if I want to coach, but no. I want to go into the commentating side. It is something that I really want to do.”
Before he takes on Cole Escavedo in the IFL, Pulver will first face Masakazu Imanair in Pride. Pulver is eager to get back in the ring. Closing the interview, he said, “I’m excited. I’m excited to get out there and do something. I’m just ready to fight again.”