Since retiring from fighting in 2013, former UFC lightweight champion Jens “Lil Evil” Pulver has mostly kept out of the spotlight, making appearances here and there and occasionally helping with the training of fighters.
However, just because Pulver has taken a step back, it doesn’t mean he’s far from jumping into a cage. On the May 31 edition of DirecTV’s Kingdom series on its Audience Network, Pulver made an appearance as a title challenger to star Matt Lauria’s character.
Speaking to MMAWeekly.com shortly after the episode’s premier, Pulver talked about how the Kingdom appearance came about, the buzzed about clash between boxing and MMA, and what could be next for him in the near future.
MMAWeekly.com: Firstly, Jens, tell us how you ended up making an appearance on Kingdom.
Jens Pulver: Joe Stevenson asked if I wanted to come down, be on the set and do a scene. I said I would love to try out some Hollywood fighting. I went down and got to hang out with Joe – which was cool – and I got to go in and be an opponent for (Lauria’s character Ryan Wheeler), so it was cool.
MMAWeekly.com: Did you get any flashbacks to your own fight career while you were in there filming?
Jens Pulver: At one point I had to tell them to hold on because they were making it way too real. The way they had the venue set up, the crowd came in, the refs, they had the commission – they had everything. And I’m out there warming up in the cage and was like it was way too real. I started getting the nerves, I started getting anxious, but then I remember I am retired. It definitely took me right back to the older days.
MMAWeekly.com: Tell us about the fight choreography and what it was like adjusting to the style of fighting for a TV series.
Jens Pulver: Joe put the fight together. We got to spend three or four days going over it, learning the routine. Just learning how to sell punches and sell things and stuff like that. The biggest thing was learning to sell the moves and how to choreograph it, and then I really got into it. If I could do more fight scenes, sign me up for it, because I loved it.
MMAWeekly.com: Kingdom aside, what else have you been up to lately?
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Jens Pulver: I’ve been just kind of laying low, staying away from the sport just because it’s been so hard… when I retired I didn’t know what I wanted to do in the sport. I’ve been working with Raufeon (Stots), and I’ve got this kid name Jacob Woodard, who I’ve known since he was in the fourth grade, and he’s wrestled over here in Iowa and now he wants to fight and asked me if I wanted to coach him, and I said alright.
My biggest thing right now is my kids. My daughter is going into first grade. My son is going into third grade. My wife is real busy. I’ve just been a family guy.
MMAWeekly.com: Have you been able to take the lessons you learned all those years back with Miletich Fighting Systems and apply them to your coaching style today?
Jens Pulver: What it is more than anything, I should just be there to sharpen your skills. I shouldn’t be at your door every day to talk you into running or trying to tell you how to diet or when to sleep or how to eat clean. Those are the things you need to do as a fighter. What I’ll do is sharpen the blade. I’m here to give you a game plan. I’m here to give you tips on things to work on. I’m not here to be your full time babysitter.
I think the one thing that is always instilled in me is that nothing is given. The whole idea that you have a silver spoon because you want to be a fighter, there’s no such thing. That’s not how I came up or any of us came up (at MFS). It’s their career and it’s what they want to do, so they should go after it 100-percent. It’s my job just to make sure that they’re sharp.
MMAWeekly.com: Having been both a pro boxer in addition to a champion MMA fighter, what are your thoughts on the proposed bout between Floyd Mayweather and UFC lightweight title holder Conor McGregor?
Jens Pulver: (Mayweather) was so good, it’s ridiculous. This is “the” guy – the guy who could never get hit. The speed with what Mayweather can do: the mobility, the striking, the speed, that’s all he’s had to focus on. It’s just a different world.
I feel Conor has a puncher’s chance. He’s got power – a lot of power – and that can do something. But it’s with “the” fighter that you’re talking about who was unhittable and unbeatable. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I think enjoy it for what it is. And my hat’s off to Conor, one for getting that payday, and two for stepping in against one of the best boxers that ever stepped in the ring.
MMAWeekly.com: Thanks for taking time out for us, Jens. Is there anything you’d like say in closing?
Jens Pulver: I’ve been hesitating on pulling the trigger, but I have my Twitch account set up. I’m trying to, but still my anxiety and stuff; I can talk myself out of it. It will be jenslilevilpulver on Twitch. I just have to hit the share button. I’ve just got to pull the trigger and get over my anxieties. You can get me jenspulver on Instagram; it’s @jens_pulver for Twitter and Jens Pulver on Facebook.