It’s no secret that former UFC lightweight titleholder Jens Pulver’s fighting career is creeping toward an end. Finally fighting in the best weight class for his physical frame, Pulver entered the ONE FC Bantamweight Tournament hoping to win another title to cap off his career.
“It will mean the world to me. I’m not oblivious to the fact that my career is coming to an end. Winning this Grand Prix earns me a title shot,” Pulver told MMAWeekly.com. “This might be the final opportunity for me to win a major title and winning this will, without a doubt, be the pinnacle of my career.”
Pulver began his mixed martial arts career in 1999. Most of his 45 fights were fought in the lightweight division. Pulver fought for the world title as a featherweight, losing to then-champion Urijah Faber. He has taken fights in divisions as low as flyweight, but feels bantamweight is where he should have always been.
“Bantamweight is the perfect weight class for me. I feel like finally I am fighting at the weight that I should have always been fighting at,” said Pulver. “I don’t feel like I am outsized and outmatched, while I also do not cut so much weight that it drains me on fight night. I do have to follow a strict diet and, if I do that, I barely have to cut anything on the day of weigh in.”
Fighting in ONE FC and as a bantamweight has rekindled Pulver’s fighting spirit, but he approaches the rest of his career with a realistic perspective and is taking it one fight at a time.
“What ONE FC is doing is amazing for the sport. Right now, in the MMA industry, there are only two real promotions. ONE FC is the largest promotion in this side of the world, and right now there is really no better promotion in the world. Everything they do is world-class, from the production level to the way they treat their fighters. They have many grand plans ahead and they have all the potential to become the best in the world,” he said.
“Right now, I’m taking it fight by fight. I will stop fighting when one day I wake up and I have no motivation to go train. That is when you know your career is done. Since fighting for ONE FC, I have found a renewed passion. I am now competing at the highest level of the sport and as long as I can continue to win, I will find the motivation to train and compete,” added Pulver.
He faces Masakatsu Ueda on April 5 in the semifinals of the ONE FC Bantamweight Grand Prix. Ueda (16-2-2) is a former Shooto 132-pound champion.
“He’s quite a big name in the Asian MMA circuit. We are the two big names in the semifinals of the Grand Prix and whoever wins this bout will enter the final as the favorite,” said Pulver about his opponent. “I have watched some of his fights and he is a grinder in the true sense of the word. He has a power to break his opponent’s will to fight.”
Pulver didn’t have a prediction on how the fight will play out, but did envision himself as the eventual winner.
“I can’t really predict how a fight will go. There are just so many unknowns and permutations that a fight can unfold differently every single time it is done,” he said. “I am just confident that I will bring my skills and leave it all in the cage like I always do. He will not break me and I will be the one with my hands raised at the end of the day.”
ONE Fighting Championship: Kings and Champions takes place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore, and is headlined by a lightweight title bout between champion Kotetsu Boku and challenger Shinya Aoki.
Fans can view the event via live streaming at www.onefc.livesport.tv. The undercard fights are available for viewing free-of-charge and the main card fights will be available for purchase at US$9.99.