Regardless of who your favorite fighter is, Jens Pulver banged against them back in the day and even grabbed wins over BJ Penn, Caol Uno, Rob Emerson, Joe Daddy Stevenson, Gilbert Yvel’s trainer John Lewis and Dennis ‘Superman’ Hallman. He’s led a life that we all are incapable to lead, which technically makes him more of a man than you. If you’re a woman, just pretend you’re a man who’s never experienced the taste of his own blood in this scenario. It’ll work, just use your imagination. Lil’ Evil is a codename for ‘Everything you’ve ever wanted to be, but were too afraid to accomplish’. That’s why Jens Pulver is the only person that deserves to rock such a moniker and he will continue to do so from now until the earth ceases to rotate. Check out this exclusive interview of Jens Pulver conducted by J. Nawara only at MiddleEasy.com – Because MMA is everything. Props to Davi Russo for the photography.
So it’s not everyday where you get to interview a legend, but when I heard you played World of Warcraft, I knew we needed to touch base with you man.
, I was a WoW
What? What happened?I got hacked and it pissed me off so bad. First time it’s ever happened in my life and they vendored off all my shit and I just said ‘no way, I’m done’.
Ah, no! When did that happen?Damn near a few months ago now. What happened I think was that I was on some wireless connection at a hotel or something. I log on and the next thing I see is some half-naked people with boots on and all my shit’s gone. I got it all back but I was so into the game that when it happened, it just pissed me off to a point where I was just like “I’m done”.
That happened to me, you have to get an authenticator.Yeah, that’s what I hear. You know it’s been a blessing in disguise. I lose all these fights, then I get hacked? I get knocked down and lose, then I get hacked? So alright, got to focus. Get to work.
So are you saying WoW is partially the reason for your losing streak? God no. How do you blame a videogame? Anyone who says that isn’t an individual. They don’t want to sit down and make the time to eat or game. I killed a lot of time playing WoW but it’s not the same game as when I was younger. You get caught up in stupid things. I got two kids and bills to pay. You’re losing [in the game] and that’s affecting your living because that’s like going to work and not getting paid. Now you got a family to take care of. It’s not like when I was in Pride and a champion you know? All I had to do then was eat, sleep and train. Now I can’t do that. I don’t have half the time I used to have, it’s a battle.
Have you played ‘Left 4 Dead 2’?No, what I’m really into right now, and this is no lie…I got back into my Playstation. I’m like ‘OK, I don’t play WoW anymore so what am I going to do?’. I pulled out the old Assassin’s Creed and played it. Then I played the new Assassin’s Creed and woah…that game is dirty! I beat Final Fantasy 13 and I turn around and I’m like whoa. Red Dead Redemption, I beat that twice because I wanted to be more of an outlaw. I did God of War and now I’m messing around with Prince of Persia. I’m really into my Playstation right now.
I can’t get over how good Red Dead Redemption is either.Right?! I loved it so much and then I beat it. I was looking for patches or some online content for it and the end I was thinking maybe I took down the wrong guy or I had to shoot someone else. I thought I was going to try again.
Should we spoil the ending? I kind of liked it, it was interesting. It’s interesting and it keeps the game going which I love, but I go through the whole game as this guy and then it’s like “hey that’s my character” and a little piece of you goes away, like this little ‘cyber death’ going on there. Then I’m like ‘shit, my boy!’. You know, cause I’m leveling, doing all the killing and then I go out like that? Man, I just got my farm. So, I tell people all the time that if it comes to me playing a game or watching TV, it’s games. They’re interactive. If you have time to watch TV, I have time to play videogames. You know if you’re watching a movie, I can play a videogame and use my mind, you know? All the time you can watch TV or read and people don’t get on you for that. Think about how much time you spend otherwise just watching TV. You play games and they can occupy your mind.
Passive entertainment… Right, I would rather be thinking. That’s what so many people don’t understand about Warcraft and stuff, especially in my era, and they think they know it all. It’s a lot different from going out there and shooting something rather than going up against some fucking, whoa pardon the language, some gigantic Tier 9 Night Elf. Everyone will be caught up in that virtual world soon. How many times do you think the astronauts run PC simulations and the military or pilots that run on computers before they fly you to your destination?
It’s true.Well think about it, these kids with Call of Duty are looking to flank and are calling out tactics. What’s the difference? Playing ‘Capture the Flag’ on Teamspeak and Ventrilo. There’s just not real bullets flying around.
You’re in UFC 2010, any chance you will be able to get into EA Sports MMA as a downloadable character? Well I guess that’s up to EA. I don’t know, I got cut. I lost, so you know what are the chances I don’t go in there and show them what a real MMA game should look like? I already got the gaming idea man.
You should offer your services to the gaming industry.Yeah, now that you say that I’m going to make some calls man. I got the sickest idea! The sickest online role-playing MMA game, ugh I better not…
Back when you fought Sakurai you lost part of your eye, did that negatively effect your gaming for a period?Oh, are you kidding me? I had a whole front chunk of my eye gone, it’s ironic they get poked in the eye and they call a timeout. I get poked in the eye and I put my hands up and get thumped. Awesome. And for some reason, the wife and I laugh at it. I don’t know why, maybe I don’t blink but I get poked in the eye every time I’m sparring. I get poked in the eyeball. It’s ridiculous.
Speaking of your family, describe yourself as a parent. What am I like as a parent? I can put you on with my wife right now she could probably answer better. I hate that stuff, she would be honest.
Sure, put her on.(Pulver’s wife) He’s a big kid.
Nice. Do you want your son to grow up in Jens’ footsteps?(Pulver’s wife) We want him to do whatever it is they want to do. If he wants to be a fighter, so be it. It looks like that is the route he is going right now.
Is he an even lil’er evil around the house?(Pulver’s wife) Oh my god. The house is his playpen and we can’t keep it clean.
Does Jens let him do whatever he wants?(Pulver’s wife) Yeah pretty much, we have always been pretty easygoing as parents. We do have boundaries and stuff, other than that we let him do what he wants.
Is he a lil’ gamer?(Pulver’s wife) He’s not really into the TV. He wants to play sports, he wants to fight. He’ll try to lift weights and do everything the guys in the gym are doing.
Awesome, well thanks for your time Jens Pulver’s wife.
(Pulver’s wife) Sure! (hands the phone over to Jens Pulver)
She’s the only wife I know of that sees a camera and runs in the opposite direction. But yeah man, it’s different like with my daughter who lives in Arizona, it’s tough. I only saw her for four days and I just don’t know, I never see her, but my son I see every day. I wish he wanted to play a game with me. Because of that separation, I have two completely different kids: one that I see all the time, one I talk to on the phone.
It’s interesting how people are products of their environments.Oh I can prove it dude. All you have to do is look at my brother who has been in prison for years and my other brother who has a masters in literature. Then you look at my sister who, well…whatever.
How’s the documentary going? Is it done?
Getting there man! It’s going to be finished by the end of summer. The director is bringing it to New York and he’s trying to edit it down because he’s got so much footage man. So he’s out there trying to get it done, talking to people. My goal is to take the TV version, a short version, and go on tour at colleges or whatever and then talk afterword. That’s what I would like to do. He’s got so many photos of this thing that he wants to make a book with all the pictures. But yeah, you can see some of the documentary at jenspulverdriven.com
and see some of the clips up there.
It looks amazing.Oh yeah, the guy is incredible. They were shooting it all on the, I don’t know…Canon EOS? Like a still camera, but now it can shoot movies? Incredible. I want one of those.
Is there a clear-cut division in MMA with the ‘old school’ vs the ‘new school’?Oh sure there is a division, you got the guys coming up now in great shape that know wrestling even jiu-jitsu. Some are working muay-thai. If I could have done that and trained back in the day, I would have been fortunate, very fortunate. I was out there competing at a time where the only competition was wrestling. Then I got caught up in it, go to the UFC, fighting, world championships, Las Vegas. So I was there and I’ve been there from the extremely old, to the new beginning, to where we are now. You see some kids at six, seven and eight boxing, I mean look at that. My son is putting the gloves on hitting the bag at a year [old]. He’s walking around trying to lift a three-pound dumbbell.
There is something in human nature that makes us gravitate towards the combat sports. Like Chael Sonnen said, there was no football or baseball a thousand years ago, just grappling. There has always been wrestling and now we are right back to where we were before. I’ve always said it, now we just found the wrestling that made sense. People always got the combat sports and back in the day people would always argue over who would beat who, now it’s not a question. That’s the beauty of the UFC and MMA, there is no more talking about how tae kwon do can beat the kung fu master with a chop. The reason I like MMA is: no questions. No more how Tyson would do against a wrestler or a karate guy, now its ‘here you go’. The beauty of this sport is that it answers the question, it’s just a matter of one guy being in better shape than the other one.
That being said: Couture or Toney? Man, you know, Toney has got the power. I said it when Mercer fought Sylvia, one hit and he’s out. Randy knows, it’s James Toney. It depends on if Randy tires him out. As I get older, I’m watching Randy more and I understand the kind of style he is fighting now. He’s not trying to get those quick knockouts or anything now. Randy can use his weight to grind and push him and get James Toney’s shoulders to burn so he’s not punching as hard. But in the beginning for the first couple of minutes man, watch out. What people need to understand is that boxers hit harder than anyone in MMA. Even if you train boxing, those guys hit man. And now he’s going against one of the best? Imagine how hard he hits? He just needs to watch out for the roll and the quick hook, otherwise Randy might not even know the fight’s done. But I’m sure Randy knows, he’s the master game planner. How bad do we need a legends series? A masters series. Over forty. How bad do we need that right now? Instead of a twenty-one-year-old fighting a three-time champion at thirty-nine, they can go in and bang with the rest of the forty-year-olds. Looking at James Toney and Randy Couture, let’s get that going. Let’s see the ‘old guys’ bring it. It’s obvious guys can go a lot longer now than they were fifteen years ago. You don’t retire at thirty anymore. Maybe if Chuck was fighting in a legends series it would be sick. I hope somebody builds it. That’s my other big money idea.
Do you miss Japan?I do very much.
Why is it such a special place to fight? I just loved the atmosphere. I just love to travel. I loved going over there, it was a whole new world. It was incredible. Great fans, you know? Lots of respect, it’s such a far-off land. You go there and there are 58,000 people that are so incredibly knowledgeable and you can still hear your corner talk to you during the fight and they applaud you like it’s Wimbledon. It’s sick, I will always love going there.
Do you prefer the Japanese fanbase? Do you want an American audience to go in that direction?Nah, we are a higher spirited group as a whole. I love the fans here, I love them. I love the fans of the UFC and stateside MMA. It’s just two different worlds. So many people close themselves into a shell. You should go out there, see everything and experience everything. Different culture, different atmosphere and obviously a different language but I love the fans here. I love the rowdy noise they make and the excitement. That’s the way the US fans show that ‘hey, you have impacted us and you affected us’. When I got beaten and I got a standing ovation, it warmed my heart. That was an incredible moment to me. How many times do you drive by someone with their thumb out on the side of the road and you’re like “uh oh” not going to do that. So for people to stand up and let you know what you have done is appreciated. That’s pretty cool.
Do you think MMA fans appreciate their heroes more than other sports?I remember back in the day people saying ‘I can’t believe how approachable you guys are, you’re just like an everyday person’. Almost everyday you can find me at Wally World. I love Wal-Mart. I like to go there just to go there. People are like ‘hey I just saw you on TV!”. I think what it is for me, we look up to the bigger fighters, the heavyweights and the guys on the posters. The normal guy, they can relate to me and I think that’s one of the reasons why I can lose five fights and walk out with a standing ovation. My job is to fight for these fans and I will stay there signing autographs or whatever til the last guy leaves. I don’t care if it’s five hours after. I love everybody, they can talk to me like they talk to their own mother. You ask me a question I’m going answer it. Something Tito taught me a long time ago, one of the best pieces of advice I ever received: It’s not so much what you do inside the cage, it’s what you do before you’re in and after you’re out. I think about that all the time.
Should MMA fighters form a union?I think in any good sport or workforce there needs to be something, I don’t know how that would happen. I think more than anything this sport needs an official amateur program. I’m not talking about promoters calling it amateur so they don’t have to pay the dude money. I’m talking a legitimate, organized amateur program that people can use and high school kids could use like the Golden Gloves. Some sort of national championships or the Olympics. I’m a huge supporter of that. They should come up with some rules, maybe some heavier gloves and equipment. We should get together and think [about it] with Big John McCarthy. More than a union right now, that’s what we need. A legitimate amateur program because we need to fully develop the athlete, not because I want to put on free fights and make as much money as possible.
Do you have insurance?Yep.
How did you get involved with ‘The War on the Mainland’? I got a sick manager named Monte Cox and he told me to fight. He told me to fight on a day and I said OK. He’s sick man, sick. When my manager tells me to fight, I’m fighting.
Any interest in Strikeforce or Bellator?I will go anywhere Monte Cox tells me to. He’s been my manager for nine plus years. If he tells me to go, I’ll go. All I want to say is that I enjoy competing. I’m not getting knocked out. I was going out there looking at it as a job and I want to stop that. I got to find an appreciation of what I had, but still I have things to work on so I got to just do it.
Which loss eats at BJ Penn more: Jens Pulver or Frankie Edgar?I guarantee you it’s Frankie. I talk to BJ all the time. Edgar had the pure motivation. You look at BJ since he lost to me, he just got better and better and better. World champion, you know? Now we’re 1-1, I wish him all the best. It’s something we will always have. It’s one of those things, he can push my button but I’m a big BJ Penn supporter, no question about it. I want to see him win. I’m glad to know BJ Penn, I’m glad he came into my world.
Regarding the retirement talk, are you the Brett Favre of MMA?Nope. See, I’m not Brett Favre because I haven’t retired yet. I never said I’m retiring, other people said that. I don’t know when I want to do that. I know I want to compete. I know I’m struggling for sure. I know other people are asking are you done? Are you retired? Whatever else. But man, I pass the tests, I pass the MRI my brain is still ticking. Do I sound punchy? Do I sound lethargic? Do I sound like I’m not there?
Crystal clear.Shit, I don’t even have the option to go and come back. I’ve always said, when I’m done I’m done.
You told the world Jeremy Horn plays WoW, any other closet gamers that you can out?I absolutely can not name any of them! They are rare athletes that I game with so…