Jens Pulver: Nobody told us how to get old
Jens Pulver, 39, officially retired over the weekend.
Pulver survived a hellish upbringing at the hands of his disturbed, alcoholic father. Pulver also has been open about a lifelong struggle with depression. Never the less "Lil' Evil" rose to become the inaugural UFC lightweight champion, and defended it twice, beating Dennis Hallman and BJ Penn, before leaving over contractual issues in 2002. He then fought all over the world, returning briefly to the UFC in 2006/2007.
From 2008 to 2010 he suffered a six fight loss streak, but turned his training around, and ended 4-5. He holds career wins over BJ Penn, Caol Uno, John Lewis, Cub Swanson, and Dennis Hallman, among many others.
Pulver made the announcement in an interview with Karyn Bryant for MMA H.E.A.T. It began when Bryant asked Pulver what he was doing these days.
"Well, I did 135 for a bit," said Pulver. "I hear everyone saying 'time to retire', this and that. I just refused to announce it or say it, but I think I've said it like three times already today. I'm done. I mean, I'm done."
"I think most people are like 'I thought you were done like 5 years ago?' But the reality is I've got two guys that I've started coaching. My two-time national champion... he's unreal. I'm having a blast doing it. I'm back in Iowa, and I'm training with the old Miletich camp and I'm going to start being a coach there. That aspect of course I love."
"I want to commentate. I got to do Cage Warriors... And I get to do that again in Ireland in August. So I love commentating. You know me, I love to talk. It's the best seat in the house, and you get to have opinions, I love it! So I would like to continue doing that, but above all, I want to raise my kids. Be around with my kids, and be a better dad than my dad was, you know how that is, so that's what I am doing."
Pulver expanded on the remarks during an appearance on The MMA Hour.
"It was early in the morning, and we were at the Expo, and I just…you know, I’m done," said Pulver as transcribed by Chuck Mindenhall for MMAFighting. "I was really afraid. I didn’t want to be the guy who says, oh, I’m retired and then I’m come back and do it again. I didn’t really want people…I mean, there’s not much to celebrate. I’m not going to go out with some big send off or anything. So I just kind of fade off into the sunset and be done with it. I just got asked a question and I think, you know me, I’ve always been kind of emotional. And it was just at that moment I was like, yeah, I’m done."
"You know there’s a part of me that actually said, I should have finished definitely the Faber fight. Mentally, I really started suffering. I had issues. It’s sad, and again, I’ll never make excuses, but around that time. I wasn’t training hard. I wasn’t really, I was just kind of going through the motions and fighting. I think that first fight I was ecstatic. When I fought Cub and I then fought Urijah, I was confident, but after that, I was just kind of stupid. Just doing a half-shot into a guillotine, and getting submitted, getting arm-barred. You can kind of see it in the documentary. To be honest, right when I made that documentary I should have been done."
Pulver spoke as well with MMAJunkie's Ben Fowlkes, about his empathy watch BJ Penn's last, losing fight on Sunday vs. Frankie Edgar.
“It’s the hardest thing to realize when you’re in there, because in your mind you’re like, ‘I can do this,'" explained Pulver. "But once you’re in the fight, it’s like you’re not doing anything. That was the hardest part for me to watch. I was looking at him in that fight and going, ‘I get this. I know that feeling.’ Nobody told us how to get old. Nobody told us what getting old was supposed to feel like. There’s no magic switch where it all shuts off.”