Going 4-8 over his last 12 fights, Pulver has battled to find his place in a sport he helped build not that long ago, but now as he heads into his first bout for ONE FC, he knows to stay relevant you have to win.
To get back on the winning track, Pulver needs to beat rising star Eric Kelly this weekend and to do that, he knows he has to remember what made him great, and what he’s still capable of doing inside the cage.
MMAWeekly.com: What are your thoughts on Eric Kelly?
Jens Pulver: Nothing’s easy with this kid, he throws everything hard, he’s got a big country on his shoulders and he wears that with pride. He’s got the craziest rear naked choke I’ve ever seen, he hits it from different spots that I haven’t really seen before and all around athleticism and agility, while my agility is starting to slide his is still fine. I know how fast he is, If I don’t hit him hard he’s going to start steamrolling me and once he starts doing that it’s like trying to roll a ball up a hill, it’s hard to stop so I can’t let him get to that point.
I know what it was like to be young and fight a guy who was a former world champion. I know how you are motivated for that I know how that pushes you and if he comes out and lands six, seven, eight shots off the bat, like I said about that ball rolling down the hill, I can’t stop that so I’ve gotta get in there right off the bat and let him know ‘hey, I just play with the name old, I can still throw punches!’
MMAWeekly: There will be 16,500 fans in the Araneta Coliseum, after being UFC champion and fighting for Pride how much do you need such a big stage to motivate you?
JP: I need that motivation. People read about my losses and I’m not going to get into it but depression and anxiety are hard to beat and they caught up to me. Having opponents that are top notch makes the difference, when I’m sitting there and I’m fighting a smaller show and I don’t know who my opponent is, you know he’s going to come at me 1,000-percent but I got no idea about him. A guy like Eric Kelly I know my work is going to be cut out for me against him, I know who he is and I know to fear him because I know about him and that makes me train a lot harder.
MMAWeekly: How is your weight right now (approx 3pm Wednesday afternoon!)?
JP: Right now I’m heavy, I am at 153 which is right where I wanna be. I’m trying to stay big, but my days of being the 155 lbs kingpin are over, those guys are way too big. Normally I’m a 135lber which was my high school weight but coming up from 135 to fight a guy like this at 145, I was all for it.
MMAWeekly: What sort of things have you been doing to prepare yourself for this fight?
JP: I have been remembering what it was like to be the world champion, this guy that had no fear, that took on anybody. You hit me once I’ll hit you twice, you hit me twice I’ll hit you eight times. I’m gonna take you into deep water and I’m gonna drown you. I spend a lot of my time trying to remember what I was and what I still could be and why I am out there doing it.
For me it’s about the motivation, I could beat the national champion in wrestling one day and then come out the next day and lose to the worst guy because I’m an emotional guy and I’m an emotional fighter. I wish before I fight somebody would slap my mother, insult my family, say something about my kids, something to make me mad. When I come out there and I’m cool and casual and it’s like a sparring session I know I’m in trouble but coming and fighting on a show like this against a young star like Eric Kelly, it’s motivating and I need that.
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