LAS VEGAS – B.J. Penn spent the last 5 ½ years facing some of the world's finest fighters, in weight classes ranging from lightweight to light heavyweight.
It was all, though, for one reason, he said.
"It was to get me back to Jens Pulver," said Penn, who unexpectedly lost a bid for the lightweight title to Pulver in a 2002 fight and has chased a rematch ever since.
He got it on Saturday at the Palms Hotel in the finale of the UFC's reality series, The Ultimate Fighter. Penn and Pulver served as coaches on the show and agreed to fight on Spike TV in the live finale.
Penn dominated the fight from the beginning, punishing Pulver mercilessly, before submitting him on a rear naked choke at 3:12 of the second round.
It was a one-sided beatdown as Penn showed the varied skills that have led UFC president Dana White to call him the most talented mixed martial artist in history.
He excelled in the standup, took Pulver down repeatedly and had a series of submission attempts before finally sinking in the choke.
After the bout, the two embraced and ended their long-running feud. "It's definitely over," Penn said.
Pulver beamed at Penn and said, "How can you not respect a guy who has been so successful like that?"
DIAZ WINS TUF FINALE
Nathan Diaz was dominated in the one completed round of his fight with Manny Gamburyan during the finale of The Ultimate Fighter. Gamburyan repeatedly took Diaz, a jiu-jitsu expert, to the ground and delivered a significant amount of punishment.
But as he shot in to take Diaz down early in the second, Gamburyan dislocated his right shoulder. It was a reoccurrence of an injury he suffered during his semifinal win over Joe Lauzon. Gamburyan crumpled in pain as Diaz threw a few shots before Gamburyan tapped the mat to signal his acquiescence.
"I worked so hard for this and to have this happen is tough," Gamburyan said.
For winning, Diaz earned a guaranteed contract with the UFC.
In the only non-lightweight bout on the nine-fight card, Thales Leites controlled Floyd Sword and scored a first-round submission after a side choke.
Leites showed his jiu-jitsu expertise and had a number of submission attempts before rolling into the side choke and winning the fight at 3:50 of the first.
HUERTA COMES BACK
Roger Huerta struggled in the first round of his fight with Doug Evans, as Evans had the edge in wrestling, but Huerta rallied in the second.
He took Evans down and then beat him with strikes to the head, stopping him at 3:30 of the middle frame.
"In the second round, I switched gears right away and said, 'OK, this guy is no joke and he's coming here to beat me,'" Huerta said. "I wasn't going to have any of that and I went full throttle from then on."
LAUZON SCORES SUBMISSION
Joe Lauzon was one of the stars of the reality show and showed why in his fight with Brandon Melendez on Saturday. He kept taking Melendez down and going for submissions. He finally ended it with a triangle choke at 2:09 of the middle round.
MILLER BLASTS WANG
Cole Miller raced out of the corner for his bout with Andy Wang and was content to trade blows. He knocked Wang down and finished him on the ground with strikes in just 70 seconds. Wang, a jiu-jitsu expert, was criticized by Penn on the show for wanting to stand and trade punches instead of going to the ground. That strategy cost him on Saturday.
MAYNARD UNHAPPY WITH NO CONTEST
Gray Maynard may have been the most impressive fighter of the night. He thrashed Rob Emerson throughout, but wound up with a no contest.
Maynard slammed Emerson to the mat in the second, causing Emerson to wince in pain and referee Steve Mazzagatti to jump in to stop the fight. But when Maynard followed through on his slam, he drove his own head into the mat in a piledriver fashion.
Mazzagatti then ruled a no contest since neither man was able to continue.
GARCIA COMES BACK
Leonard Garcia struggled in the early moments of his fight with Allen Berube, but rebounded to win via a submission to a rear naked choke at 4:22 of the first.
Garcia, who was in a memorable slugfest with Huerta in March, was nearly submitted early before reversing the tide in the final minute of the fight.
Matt Wiman was one of the best strikers on the reality series and he showed that Saturday. He cracked Brian Geraghty and finished him with strikes on the ground at 2:09 of the first round.