by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
Former UFC Lightweight Champion Jens ‘Little Evil’ Pulver makes the move from the UFC to the WEC and from the lightweight division to the featherweight division on September 5, when he takes on Cub Swanson at WEC 30 in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Pulver spoke with MMAWeekly about the transition and the state of the WEC featherweight division.
Jens has competed against larger opponents most of his fighting career. Returning to a weight class that better suits his size, Pulver said, “I’m extremely excited. Like I said, I had a good time down there. I had some great fights at 143 in Shooto. When I’m in shape I walk around at 151 – 152 pounds, so I’m excited. More than anything I’m just excited to fight again. Coming off that last fight I just want to get back in there. Of course at 145, that’s my natural weight. I wrestled at 141 and 135 in high school, so I’m just a little dude. I’m just going to have to accept it…I want to go to 145 and focus on some other things. I want to fight whoever they put in front of me. I want to go after the title, and see what happens from there.”
To go after the title, Jens will have to defeat the reigning WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber. Asked about Urijah, Jens answered, “I think Faber’s great. I think he’s done a phenomenal job as far as a champion, as an ambassador for 145 pounds. I think he’s the perfect man for the job, but I’m going to do down there now, and I’m going to help the ambassador for 145 pounds. I’ve always wanted to take care of the little guys. I want to make sure they have a future, and I want to make sure that people get a chance to see them. I want those guys to be showcased, and the WEC has definitely, I think that so far one of their front weights is 145. To go down there and help, you know, Dana White and Joe Silva and Monte Cox all said yeah you can fight in the WEC. I was like perfect. Let’s do it. I just want to go down and do my part and help build another weight class, my natural weight class.”
Pulver added, “I definitely think I can help. I don’t know if it’s maybe because I’m old, or maybe because I was a world champion at 155, but I think it adds, I don’t really want to call it legitimacy because it’s not a pompous thing. It’s not trying to be cocky, but on the same token it’s almost like now look at this. It’s blowing up. It’s arriving. It’s getting some UFC fighters going, now they can go down to their weight at 145 when they were small fighters at 155. They don’t want to be a minor league. The WEC is not a minor league. It’s a legitimate top contending show. I mean it’s got great fighters in there, and at 145 these guys want to go out there and get after it. They understand the pressure. They know what’s going on. They’ve got to sell the excitement. They’ve got to be able to stop each other. They’ve got to be able to flip around. People expect a lot more out of them. They don’t want to see any laying and praying, and heavy man titty slapping when they’re tired. It’s going to be a lot of pressure, but I’m absolutely excited to be a part of it. I think Urijah was a great champion, still a great champion. [Jeff] Curran’s down there. I think there’s a lot of tough 145 pounders that people don’t know about and all of a sudden they’re going to see a flood of them. I think there’s a great amount of 135 pounders people never got to see or know about. They’re going to see a flood of them. This is going to explode. There’s a lot of little guys, and they’ve been waiting for a moment like this.”
When anyone talks about 145 pound fighters in the world, Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto is always mentioned. When questioned about Yamamoto, Pulver responded, “Yamamoto, he’s the real deal, and when people, when they get a chance to see what this kid’s done in the highlight reel, they’re going to be just utterly blown away. I mean I’m still blown away by the four-second run across the ring, throw a flying knee, just stays in stride and walks to the corner raising his hand. He turns around [and] the guy’s unconscious…People have no idea what they’re about to witness when they see this guy…There’s going to be some amazing fights coming here real soon at 145.”