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Steve Cofield

Another emotional but losing night for Pulver

Steve Cofield
Cagewriter

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There's nothing left to say to Jens Pulver after his latest loss. His fall from the elite has been sad and has happened very much in the public eye. Sure, he's only 35, but Pulver has been passed by from a technique standpoint and he's less competitive with each passing fight.

Javier Vazquez worked Pulver on the ground and scored an armbar victory at 3:41 of the first round. It was the fifth straight loss for Pulver, a former UFC lightweight champ, and his sixth in eight fights.

Well, that wasn't entirely true about having nothing left to say. Pulver (22-13-1, 1-5 WEC, 6-2-1 UFC) had plenty to be thankful for as he grabbed the microphone in the cage.

"This is the old Punch-Out," said Pulver, pointing to his special TapouT T-shirt featuring characters from the old Mike Tyson Punch-Out game. "The old Tyson. The authentic."

Pulver then pointed to the top of his head, "And it's over. The vintage. The authentic. I don't know how many more times I can cry in front of y'all. It's too much to keep putting you through this."

His emotions ran high in similar fashion after his last loss in Sacramento at WEC 41. WEC play-by-play voice Todd Harris then pushed Pulver for a retirement declaration.

"I'll never say that. But I'm just telling y'all, I love you way too much to put you through this again. You guys have made my life a miracle," said Pulver, as the crowd at Nationwide Arena in Columbus rose to its feet. "You're the only reason I've done this since Day 1."

After the loss to Josh Grispi last June, Pulver asked for this one final try and Zuffa, the owners of both the UFC and WEC, granted him his wish. But they didn't set him up with a tomato can for an easy win. Pulver isn't a great grappler and he was facing an uphill climb in Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Javier Vazquez.

The fight was difficult for Vazquez too, knowing that a win may send Pulver into retirement.

"I would've been in his corner, too. I'm just as big of a fan of Jens Pulver as everyone else. It was an honor for me to fight him," he said.

That said, Vazquez kept his head and fought perfectly.

"I just tried to follow the game plan, use my striking and use my ground game to get the finish. I couldn't have scripted it any better."

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The fight went to the ground less than 30 seconds into the fight, with Pulver in a surprising dominant position as he tried to work a guillotine choke. Vazquez freed himself after 30 seconds and then controlled things with several takedowns, followed by transitioning to whereever he wanted. He eventually caught Pulver in a crucifix, where he rained down some punches. Vazquez got the mount with 1:33 left in the round, when he converted it into an armbar. Pulver had to tap. He laid on the ground for a second and appeared to be in severe pain. Initial reports indicate the arm is fine.

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