by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
“I’m coaching the Ultimate Fighter [Season 5].”
Ending much speculation, Jens “Lil’ Evil” Pulver confirmed his participation as a coach for the upcoming season of the Ultimate Fighter. The former UFC lightweight champion recently appeared on MMAWeekly’s SoundOff Radio to discuss about his new gig and his last appearance in the Octagon.
Featuring UFC veterans, this past season of the Ultimate Fighter was met with mixed emotions. The next season of the Ultimate Fighter will showcase sixteen lightweight contestants and fans can look forward to the show’s return next year.
“I’m extremely excited,” elated Pulver. “You know me; it’s always about pushing the lightweight division and getting the coverage that I think it deserves.”
A longtime veteran of the UFC, Pulver was the organization’s first lightweight champion. Jens won the vacant title with a unanimous decision over Caol Uno at UFC 30. The Miletich fighter successfully defended his belt two more times against Dennis Hallman and BJ Penn before leaving the UFC undefeated. Pulver went on to fight in Pride, Shooto and the IFL while the UFC’s lightweight division went into hiatus.
After enjoying some success overseas, “Lil’ Evil” made his long awaited return to the organization that made him a champion. At UFC 63, Pulver was scheduled to take on newcomer Joe Lauzon. Coming into the fight as a big underdog, Lauzon shocked fans with a first round TKO victory over Pulver, handing the former champion his first loss in the Octagon. Pulver commented on his last performance.
“It wasn’t pressure; I think it was utter joy. I forgot that I actually had to fight and I was just happy as hell to be there,” explained Pulver. “I really didn’t have the serious game face on; I’m not going to take anything away from him [Joe Lauzon]. As far as my mindset, obviously I could have had a better game face on. I got caught up in the fact that I was back [in the UFC].”
“The pressure isn’t on me. I’ve already done enough in my career; my merit has made up for that fight,” added Pulver. “I appreciate the support of the fans, they understand that ‘hey, that’s not Lil’ Evil’. I’m really thankful for that.”
Recently, the UFC crowned Sean “The Muscle Shark” Sherk as the first lightweight champion since the division’s reintroduction. One thing’s for certain, the 155-pound division has plenty of potential title contenders. As a teammate of Pulver, Spencer Fisher is one of the fighters who may earn a shot at Sean Sherk’s belt in the near future. Jens spoke confidently about his fellow Miletich stable mate.
“If Spencer [Fisher] goes out there and wins again, he’ll absolutely be one of the top contenders. Right now, I think you really have to put Spencer in the driver’s seat. The kid is tearing things up. He had one fight where he lost to Sam Stout; Spencer took the fight on two days notice. When Spencer is in shape, he’s a tough, tough kid. I think he is, hands down, the top contender right now,” said Jens.
As the first lightweight champion since “Lil’ Evil”, Sean Sherk is a very tough challenge for any fighter. With only one fight at 155 pounds under his belt, Sherk is already touted as one of the strongest fighters in the division and his wrestling prowess has yet to be matched. Pulver spoke about the current champion.
“I think he’s that good. They [Sherk's fights] may not be the most exciting fights in the world but the reality is I just don’t see too many people out there stopping him. You’d have to be one hell of a wrestler with a well-rounded game and be in great shape.”
When Jens isn’t training or fighting, he is an avid video gamer. “I play a lot of World of Warcraft,” revealed Pulver. “Personally, I don’t go out much, I don’t drink. My leisure time has always been gaming. I absolutely love playing them.”
The fifth season of the Ultimate Fighter begins filming in January. A second coach has yet to be named, but it is speculated to be BJ Penn.
“I’m looking forward to moving over to the coaching side. After that, hopefully it will give me a new perspective on fighting and I’ll come back a little hungrier; go out there and rectify that bump in the road.”
“I love this sport.”