by Ken Pishna
It has been more than four years since his last appearance in the Octagon, but “Little Evil” Jens Pulver has signed to make his return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, MMAWeekly has confirmed. The signing was first reported by Carlos Arias of The Orange County Register.
Pulver was the first and, so far, only UFC Lightweight Champion, although it initially called the Bantamweight Title. He won the belt in a fight with Caol Uno and had successful title defenses against Dennis Hallman and BJ Penn. Following the victory over Penn, Pulver and the UFC were unable to agree on a new contract, and he subsequently left the promotion on less than amiable terms.
Although it hasn’t been officially announced, it is believed that the winner of tomorrow night’s bout between Kenny Florian and Sam Stout (on The Ultimate Fighter 3 finale) will face Sean Sherk to determine the successor to the championship that Pulver vacated in 2002.
Considering the fact that he never lost the belt in the Octagon, it would only make sense for Pulver to almost immediately be thrown into the mix and get a shot at the titleholder. With fighters such as Hermes Franca, Roger Huerta, Spencer Fisher, Mark Hominick, Joe Stevenson, Jorge Gurgel, and more currently competing in the UFC, the lightweight division has returned with a vengeance.
As referenced in a quote from Dana White in Arias’ article, there are strong rumors that Pulver will not only return looking to regain the title that he never lost, but it is believed that he will also be one of the coaches on the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter (the fourth season is already in production).
There is no doubt that the lightweight division is immediately bolstered by the addition of its original champion. After losing his first two fights upon exiting the UFC, Pulver has since gone 7-2 with his only losses coming at the hands of Takanori Gomi and Hayato “Mach” Sakurai in Pride.