Jens Pulver was ecstatic about his induction into the Hall of Fame, as it far surpassed his wildest expectations. As the UFC’s first lightweight champion, Pulver played a pivotal role in establishing the sub-170 pound weight divisions in MMA. In a recent interview with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, “Lil’ Evil” couldn’t contain his happiness after the momentous event.
Sporting a constant, beaming smile, Pulver said, “I can’t wipe this big, cheesy grin off my face! It’s been an indescribable experience. My family, the fans, the crowd—everyone who was there contributed to making it unforgettable. I’m overwhelmed and lost for words. I made a conscious effort to slow down, savor every moment, and fully embrace the occasion. And that’s exactly what I did—I lived in the present, soaking it all in.”
Pulver further shared an exciting aspect of the event, mentioning the filming of the “Where Are They Now?” series. He eagerly anticipated its release in October, as it would allow him to relive the entire journey. The producers captured countless hours of footage, including emotional moments behind the scenes where Pulver shed tears, laughed, cheered, and experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. With the abundance of videos, the experience would continue to resonate for a while.
Retiring from MMA in 2013 after a remarkable 14-year career spanning organizations such as the UFC, WEC, Pride, the IFL, and ONE Championship, Pulver transitioned to hosting the UFC’s Twitch streaming channel. Instead of enduring punches for a living, he engaged in activities that didn’t involve physical combat. Despite the long hiatus from fighting, his induction felt reminiscent of his active UFC days.
“You know what was strange? I felt like I was stepping into the octagon,” Pulver admitted. “It was as if Wednesday was weigh-in day, and Thursday afternoon, I had to arrive early for sound check. Seeing everyone waiting there, I descended from the elevator, hugging everyone, exchanging high-fives, saying, ‘Love y’all, see you at the show.’ It triggered my fight-or-flight response. It felt like I was bidding farewell and heading to the arena, but this time, I wasn’t there to fight; I was being inducted. I had to convince myself that it felt exactly the same way. It was an incredible experience.”
The induction ceremony held particular significance for Pulver, as he regarded it as a rush, similar to stepping into the cage for a fight. The nerves and anticipation before delivering his speech were tangible, despite having rehearsed it at least 25 times. Pulver recognized that the emotions would inevitably surge, intensified by the presence of the audience. Just like in the fight world, everything would be golden until the walkout, which felt akin to plunging one’s feet into freezing water. The adrenaline rush remained a constant, regardless of the circumstances. Pulver aimed for flawless execution, aligning his actions with the mental rehearsals.
Pulver made his UFC debut in 1999 and clinched the inaugural lightweight title two years later. After a contractual dispute led to his departure from the UFC in 2002, he ventured into various organizations but returned to the UFC in 2006. He then assumed the role of coach opposite B.J. Penn on season five of The Ultimate Fighter. Following that, Pulver transitioned to the WEC to contribute to the development of the featherweight division. In 2008, he challenged Urijah Faber for the WEC featherweight title. Given his significant contributions to both the UFC and MMA as a whole, many believed his induction into the Hall of Fame was long overdue. However, Pulver cherished the timing and the way everything unfolded, especially being inducted alongside his longtime friend and teammate Robbie Lawler.
“I can’t even express it—destiny,” Pulver emphasized. “It’s bizarre, but I appreciate it when people say, ‘It’s about time.’ Thank you so much… I always believe it’s the perfect time. Just look at how it all unfolded. Suddenly, I’m here, commentating with Bas Rutten at Robbie’s fight. It felt like my little brother was in the ring, and then I had the chance to catch up with Nick Diaz. We walked together, reminiscing and talking. We all gathered together for a moment… My entire past converged into an incredible moment. The timing was perfect. Seeing Robbie’s fight and the way he performed—it moved me to tears.”
However, Pulver highlighted that the most incredible part of the entire experience was his interactions with the fans throughout the week in Las Vegas. He expressed deep gratitude for the overwhelming support he received.
“My friends, my family, my cousin Justin—they were all amazing. But above all, the fans were simply incredible,” Pulver expressed with gratitude. “Wherever I went, people rushed up to say hello. I felt terrible that I couldn’t sign autographs for everyone that day due to the limited time window. I felt awful leaving people behind… The fans—there’s nothing quite like them. I’ve had some of the most memorable interactions of my life. People just want to give you their time. Meeting them, talking to them, brightening their day—it’s the coolest thing ever. They stand in line just to meet you, introducing their kids and friends. It’s the greatest feeling in the world. I love it.”
Pulver concluded with immense satisfaction, stating, “It exceeded all my expectations. Being with my family, Robbie, and everyone—it couldn’t have been better. And the fans—I missed that connection so much. It was incredible to be back in the spotlight, feeling relevant, filling that void. Going out there and hearing everyone’s cheers—it was beyond what I could have ever imagined.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Hall of Fame induction
What is Jens Pulver’s Hall of Fame induction?
Jens Pulver’s Hall of Fame induction refers to his recognition and inclusion in the UFC’s Hall of Fame. He was honored for his achievements as the UFC’s first lightweight champion and his contributions to the sub-170 pound weight divisions in MMA.
When did Jens Pulver retire from MMA?
Jens Pulver retired from MMA in 2013, concluding a 14-year career that included competing in various organizations such as the UFC, WEC, Pride, the IFL, and ONE Championship.
How did Jens Pulver feel about his Hall of Fame induction?
Jens Pulver expressed immense joy and gratitude for his Hall of Fame induction, stating that it exceeded his expectations. He was overwhelmed by the support of his family, friends, and fans, and cherished the opportunity to relive the memorable moments and interact with the fans during the induction ceremony.
What were some of Jens Pulver’s accomplishments in MMA?
Jens Pulver achieved several notable accomplishments in his MMA career. He became the UFC’s first-ever lightweight champion and played a significant role in establishing the sub-170 pound weight divisions in the sport. He competed in multiple organizations, fought against top-level opponents, and contributed to the development of the featherweight division in the WEC.
How did Jens Pulver feel about his interactions with fans during the induction week?
Jens Pulver greatly appreciated the interactions with fans during the induction week. He described it as a special experience, where he had the chance to meet and talk to fans, sign autographs, and make their day. Pulver expressed his gratitude for their support and considered it one of the best parts of the entire experience.