Pulver (27-19-1) was the first ever UFC lightweight champion, but has not fought since November 2013, while Tirta (16-0-1) returned from a three-year layoff to make a successful ONE FC debut in June.
Tirta revealed during an online Q&A with the Wall Street Journal last week that he would be returning to action on Feb. 14 and that the opponent was likely to be Pulver. Both parties have already agreed in principle to the bout and agreements are set to be signed this week.
It will be Pulver’s fourth fight for ONE FC. He holds a technical decision win over Ya Fei Zhao, but was stopped in the second round by both Masakatsa Ueda and Eric Kelly, while Tirta’s sole win for the promotion was a first-round submission over Sami Amin.
Tirta holds a black belt in BJJ and has experience in both Sanda and professional boxing, but his career stalled after he got locked into an exclusive contract with the now-defunct Legend FC, a period during, which he fought just once in five years.
At the age of 33, he should still be in his prime and Tirta is rapidly becoming the figurehead for ONE FC’s onslaught on the Indonesian market. This will be the organization’s fourth event in a country that has a population of approximately 250 million people, as well as the largest economy in the region.
Tirta’s bout at ONE FC: Era of Champions earlier this year was his first in Jakarta since 2005 and matchmakers presumably feel that Pulver’s status as a former UFC champion make this the perfect fight to help the Indonesian increase his popularity among the local fanbase.
Pulver has fought nine times for the UFC, six times for the WEC, and four times for Pride, while the vast majority of Tirta’s wins have been against local opponents. The fight with Pulver will be a good opportunity to assess the title credentials of the undefeated Indonesian.
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