My Favorite Fight: Hardy on Pulver/Penn I
I was a fan of Jens Pulver. He was the fighter I really used to watch a lot of when I first started out. The first fight I saw of him was against John Lewis at UFC 28. He knocked him out with a big overhand left. I was a fan from that point on.
And obviously BJ Penn is more well-known now then he was at UFC 35. BJ had hair at the time, so that’s how long ago that fight was. Both guys were on top of their game.
Jens Pulver was the champion and BJ Penn was the contender. Everybody thought BJ was going to come in and win pretty comfortably but Jens Pulver stepped up his game in that fight – it was a great performance by both of them.
The fight was special to me because it was so evenly matched. They both had great boxing and ground game. For me it was one of those big steps forward in MMA where you could tell that the sport was evolving and everyone was becoming a more well-rounded fighter.
The armbar at the end of the second or third round is a moment in the fight that really stood out to me. BJ had Jens in a pretty much completely locked out armbar, right on the bone. There was a bit of debate whether Jens tapped or not.
When I first saw this fight, I was still very much a kickboxer trying to learn grappling. The fight was in 2002, two years before I had my first pro fight. I first watched the fight by myself on the internet in my room in the UK. After I watched the fight, I immediately went out and bought the DVD.
That fight became something I would watch before I went training. I would watch that fight a couple times a week before sparring. I would watch it early in the morning before I went to the gym. I used to go to the gym, then to university to do some work, and then back to the gym in the afternoon. So basically mixed martial arts was a huge distraction when I was supposed to be studying.
I haven’t watched that fight in a while, but I still have the DVD so I’m going to have to go back and watch it. There are only a few fights I do go back and watch but I am definitely going to go back and watch BJ vs Jens soon.
There was no arrogance with Jens. He worked hard and he was so happy that he was successful. I always rooted for him because no matter what, he was the underdog -- even when he was the champion.
I’ve met Jens a couple of times and he is he nicest guy you could ever meet. He had a real rough run where he lost six in a row a while back. I lost four in a row and that was really rough so I can relate. I’m still a Jens fan because he always shows up to fight and perform.