Former UFC champ Jens Pulver announces his retirement at 38

Kevin Iole

Jens Pulver, one of the stars of the early days of the UFC, announced his retirement on Saturday after a long career that began in 1999. Pulver hadn't fought since losing a Nov. 23, 2013, bout in Sweden to Sami Amzi, but he made his retirement official Saturday at the UFC Fan Expo at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas during an interview with Karyn Bryant of MMA Heat.

Pulver, 38, had an incredibly sad life story. His father, Jens Sr., sexually abused him and once stuck a gun down his throat, only to not pull the trigger and tell his son that he wasn't worth the bullets it would take to kill him. He was the subject of several books and a documentary film about his life called, "Jens Pulver: Driven."

Nicknamed "Lil Evil," Pulver managed to succeed in mixed martial arts and connected with fans in a way that, despite many losses in the second half of his career, kept him among the most popular in the game.

But he told Bryant that he finally realized he'd had enough.

I refused to announce it or say it, but I think I've said it three times today: I'm done. I'm done. And I think most people would say, 'Well, you were done like five years ago,' but the reality is, I am.

Pulver, who said he wants to get into coaching fighters, retires with a 27-19-1 record as an MMA fighter. He was also 4-0 as a pro boxer and 1-0 as a kick boxer.

His greatest moment as a fighter came on Jan. 11, 2002, in Uncasville, Conn., when he won a majority decision over the legendary B.J. Penn to retain the UFC lightweight title. He also scored significant wins over Caol Uno, Dennis Hallman and Cub Swanson. Pulver later coached against Penn on Season 5 of "The Ultimate Fighter" and lost to Penn in the rematch.

But he struggled down the stretch of his career and wound up losing three of his last four. While he'll be known for many of his great accomplishments, he'll be remembered as well for his kindness and generosity and his willingness to assist those who found themselves in dark places with nowhere to turn.

In 2007, he told Yahoo Sports he felt it was important not just to donate financially to charity, but to get involved and personally assist those who need help.

It's great that people give money to important causes, but a lot of times, no matter how much money it is, money's not the answer. I give my money, but I really try to donate my time. I was there once, and I know how much it means to have someone there who cares and who will listen and not be judgmental. I've been through the highs and the lows and the good and the bad. There isn't a thing in life I haven't been through. That's why I can have an impact. No matter what you're going through, I'm going to be able to relate to you on one level or another.

Pulver is one of mixed martial arts' true good guys, but he made the right decision to retire. Now, he'll be able to shape the sport he loves as a coach by helping the next generation of fighters.


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