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Friday, March 29, 2013
With a professional fighting career that started in 1999 at the Bas Rutten Invitational with then-UFC matchmaker John Perretti looking on, Jens Pulver is still in the hunt for another championship. Now 38, the former (and first) UFC lightweight champion will be taking on former Shooto featherweight champion Masakatsu Ueda in the semifinals of the ONE FC bantamweight Grand Prix.
This fight takes place on the ONE FC: Kings and Champions card Friday, April 5, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore. The show will be televised live in Asia on Star Sports, which is available in 28 countries to an estimated 500 million viewers. It will also be webcast live around the world as a pay-per-view on http://www.onefc.livesport.tv.
We spoke with Jens Pulver by phone last Thursday about this upcoming fight and the lessons of his historic career.
ONE FC, he said in this interview, is "exploding. They're getting bigger and bigger and bigger. They're blowing up. For Asian MMA, this is huge."
As for his fight he added,"To be in the semifinals against a former Shooto world champion in Ueda, this is going to be a tough fight. It's going to be a fun fight. It's going to be crazy."
We discussed the revival of his career after a series of losses. "I got lost," he said, dealing with the problems of anxiety and depression. The lessons learned from mental side of the fight business are so important to him that he has become involved with an organization called Nvr Fly Solo. They include in their Mission Statement the aim to "Encourage anyone and everyone to stand up and start talking about anxiety and depression."
We also discussed his two fights thus far in ONE FC. In August 2012, after winning the first round against the then-unbeaten Eric Kelly, and in Kelly's home of the Philippines, he tired in the second round and was stopped in the second round. He attributed that largely to jet lag, something for which he is learning to adjust as he continues to fight in Asia while living in the U.S.
His next fight, against Zhao Ya Fei of China in October 2012 in Singapore, saw Jens winning in the second round when he was struck by an unintentional but powerful shot to the groin. He was unable to continue, and was then awarded a technical decision victory. This was in the bantamweight Grand Prix quarterfinals, thus advancing him to the semifinals.
In addition, we discussed how only in recent years he is maturing as a person, how he likes to travel, how he considers Ueda a counter-puncher and how he might fight him, his background as a Division I wrestler and professional boxer, his plans for coaching and public speaking, his new gym in Nebraska which opens in May, and much more.
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