The Ufc Loses Its Undisputed Champ:jens Pulver Is Released By The Ufc
The UFC Loses Its Undisputed Champ:
Jens Pulver is released by the UFC
By Chris Onzuka – Chris@Onzuka.com
UFC Lightweight Champion, Jens Pulver recently told FCF, "I have been released from the UFC. I am free to fight anywhere else and I am no longer the lightweight champion of the UFC." This comes as a shock to some, while others have heard rumblings about Pulver possibly fighting outside of the UFC. That was all rumors, up until now.
The primary reason for Pulver’s departure was… What else? Money. Pulver signed a multi-fight contract with UFC while it was still under SEG’s control. "At that time, it was good money," Pulver stated. After Zuffa purchased the UFC, Pulver expected to renegotiate his contract, but they stated that the terms of his current contract would stand. As the UFC grew, so did the fighter’s purses. All except Pulver’s. Pulver went on to say, "The guys that I fought [Uno, Hallman and Penn] all got paid more money than me." At the UFC 35, Pulver said, "I fought in the MAIN EVENT for 11 [$11,000 to show] and 11 [$11,000 to win]. I had to win to get $2,000 more than BJ got for losing." While to some that sounds like a decent purse, Pulver stated the real issue was that his purse wasn’t anywhere near the size of UFC’s other champions. "Tito’s getting 90 and 90. Randy Couture fighting Josh Barnett gets $100,000 and 65 more to win." Pulver stood true to his word and finished out his contract, taking on all comers. At the end of his contract, Pulver was expecting much better paydays. Zuffa offered 20 and 20, 25 and 25, and 30 and 30 for each subsequent fight. [The money that Jens is quoted as saying that other fighters were paid has not yet been verified with Zuffa] Pulver feels that this showed a total lack of respect for him and the whole lightweight division. "Now a lot of people think that is a lot of money, but the truth is all I ever asked was to compare me to the other champions. They are making triple of what I am making. I am the ONLY fighter that even has a chance of beating Royce Gracie’s (UFC) record. I am three fights away. I can end up the whole thing with 10-0-1. I didn’t get to fight in tournaments. I fought the best guys they put in front of me." Zuffa told Pulver that heavier fighters are paid more because of the competition from Pride.
Pulver went on to describe how tough the lightweight division is, "None of the other champions have had to fight all of the top five guys. Actually, you know who has? Matt Hughes. He just fought [Carlos] Newton. He fought [Hayato] Sakurai, he’s on the same path. Tito has not had to fight the best two guys. None of them has had to fight a guy like BJ [Penn] who knocked out the top two guys in one round. That’s how tough our weight class is. And then you [UFC] tell us, ‘we are not paying you the big money, because you are too little.’ This is the only weight class that is legitimate, where the number one guy went through everybody. And the number two guy whacked through everybody. The rest of the weight classes are political. Who does Tito get to fight? Kondo, who weighs 185lbs, Matyushenko? I am not taking anything away from Tito, he is a great fighter and he had some guys pull out on some fights, but what I am hearing now is that the guy gets to fight Ken Shamrock in a non-title fight. That guy has been out for four UFC’s and he gets a non-title fight. Chuck Liddell has fought every one that was thrown out in front of him. When does he get a title shot? He’s been waiting for it. He ain’t never going to get it. It’s all about who they [Zuffa] love and who they want to take care of."
It got personal to Pulver when Zuffa said that he was too little and had no leverage to bargain because UFC paid top dollar for fighters in his weight class. Pulver especially felt used because he thought that he has struck up a friendship and something that meant more than just business. "I love them as friends, but like they tell me and if there is one thing that I learned through all these contract negotiations, business is different. I don’t work that way. If you are my friend, that is business. And I treat my business [relations] like my friends." For that reason and the fact that Pulver felt an obligation to his fans as the UFC Lightweight Champion. "The thing is, I’m the champ, 24-7. Anywhere they wanted me to go, I did it. When I got to commentate the show, I tried to rock the shop. Ricco Rodriguez comes in and all he does is talk about himself. He goes out on a limb and picks the winner of every single fight and gets one of them right. I heard what he said about Matt Hughes and it was a joke. He made himself look stupid literally. [When I commentated] the two hours wasn’t about me. Ricco made it about himself. I was there to talk, enjoy the fights and break it down the best way I could. I did everything I could to represent the sport. I didn’t want to be one of those guys that say that they want a lot more money, but I ain’t going to do anything to help you make money."
Jens Pulver has always been a fan favorite, if not for his accomplishments in the Octagon, for his old-fashioned determination to get out from under the cloud of being abused as a child and reaching the pinnacle of this sport. However Pulver will never forget his past and always looks for ways to give back to the MMA community. Monte Cox adds, "I get on the forums just like anyone else and say my piece and go back and forth, but I think the real fans are the people you see when Jens goes places and people will run to get autographs and talk to him. They e-mail us and say: ‘he’s our favorite.’ You can take any fighter, like Tito [Ortiz], who is probably the most popular guy in the sport right now and there is a ton of people that can’t stand the guy. That is just the way it is. People are jealous and have their own reasons for not liking somebody. In general, everywhere we go, people love Jens. They love what he went through in his own personal life and what he’s become. Sometimes you have to look at what a person does outside of the ring when you are evaluating their value. I think Zuffa made a mistake. Jens could have been one of the guys that continues to make them better than Pride. We are going to be hustling for the next couple weeks to get Jens in Pride. That’s just another step up they will have on Zuffa."
According to Monte and Jens, the problems were compounded with the UFC’s contract restrictions, Pulver could not fight in other organizations for a year and a half. In addition, UFC contracts allow the UFC to choose when you are going to fight, sometimes giving a fighter inadequate time to properly prepare for his opponent. "You never know when you are going to fight. They could call you in to fight a month [before the fight]. Then your rights are sold away, video games are out there, whatever. We don’t get anything from that. No other sport is like that." Pulver even offered the UFC to sign the contract for the stated purses, if they would allow him to fight in other organizations to make up the difference. The UFC did not accept those terms even though Chuck Liddell and Carlos Newton have done so and are back in the UFC. "I just want to fight the best guys. The money would have never been an issue, if I was never told by Joe Silva in the beginning that it was all about bargaining and leverage. And nobody else pays the lightweights the way we do." Pulver went on to say, "I don’t think anyone loves them more than I did, but the fact of the matter is that they told me that I can’t fight in Japan and they are not going to raise the money. And that’s the way it is."
Once Pulver was released, his manager, Monte Cox did not take the news quite like Jens. "I look at it as a business decision. I don’t blame Zuffa for what they are doing. Jens takes it a little more personal because they struck up a friendship with him and they made it seem like more than an employee-employer relationship. Jens is shocked that it came down to business. I have been around a while and I understand how it works. It came down to, we have to decide what Jens is worth. You’re only worth what someone else is willing to pay you. If we had looked around and we couldn’t get any more money, then we’d still be with the UFC, but we looked for about 15 minutes and found someone who was willing to pay almost double what the UFC was offering and with that being the case, to me, that’s his market value. They can either pay it or let him go. It took them a couple of months to come to this decision. The bottom line is that they felt that they couldn’t pay that kind of money for the lightweight division. Jens takes it a little more personal, but from a business standpoint they did nothing wrong. They decided this is what they are willing to pay and it wasn’t enough, so we had to part company. My job is not to worry about the UFC. My job is taking the number one rated fighter in the world and see what the world will pay him. We started adding it up and within the next three to four months, Jens will make more money than the entire UFC contract is offering. So if that is the case I think we made the right decision. If I am not able to get these fights, then we made the wrong decision, but every now and then you have to stand up for yourself and decide if you are worth more and then go and find it." Fighting in Japan is very lucrative, but Jens is not looking to fight against easier opponents. Two big names in the lightweight division have been brought up, Royler Gracie and Alexandre "Pequeno" Nogueira [current Shooto champion]. The offers in Japan would pay Pulver as much if he lost as two fights in the UFC. Pulver went on to say that the rumors about Pride are unfounded, "Pride has never contacted me." Japan is not the only one interested in Pulver. Pulver has a match lined up at Brad Kohler’s Ultimate Wrestling event [August 8th] and Stephane Patry of the UCC in Canada has expressed strong interest in Pulver for their event in September. Pulver himself has also stated that he wants to fight in K-1. "My ultimate goal is to fight Muay Thai. That is something that I always wanted to do."
Pulver also believes that the UFC is doing things to spite him at this point. Pulver said that the UFC came out in the middle of his negotiations and informed him that they are doubling Matt Hughes’ purse in the middle of his contract. Pulver said that the last thing that was said between him and the UFC was, "You are making the biggest mistake of your life by not signing with us. I [Pulver] said, ‘no, the biggest mistake of my life would be signing for that money and watching all the people that I’m fighting getting paid more than me because all it [MMA as a sport] is going to do is grow." Pulver said that he is a little worried about making this decision, but has piece of mind. "If I never fight again, I won the world title and got to defend it against the best they could throw at me. I did everything I could for the sport. The biggest lesson that I learned was, when it comes to them, it doesn’t matter how good a friend you are, business is business and personal is personal. And I had to find that out the hard way."
Don’t count Jens Pulver out yet; the 26 year old is far from over. "After all of that, I am going to let the chips fall. That is the one thing about being with Monte [Cox], I believe in my promoter. I believe in my manager, my team and in what I do. The UFC told me that I made the biggest mistake of my life. You know what, the bottom line is that they made the biggest mistake of their life. I started one weight class in the UFC. I’ll start five more in every other show. God’s got a plan for me. If everybody ain’t religious that’s fine. I’m not the biggest Holy Roller, but the fact is I am sitting in the right spot. I lived in shit and I am coming out. Ride the coat tails because everybody is going to get paid who weighs under 155lbs. That’s the bottom line."
[Due to the weekend we have not been able to reach Zuffa for comment yet.]
Super Brawl 24:
Return of the Heavyweights
Day 2: The Finals
Blaisdell Center, Honolulu, Hawaii
April 27, 2002
By Chris Onzuka – Chris@Onzuka.com
Tim Sylvia, the big man fighting out of Iowa, pounded his opponents to make it to the finals. There was a scare when Rothwell rushed in for a takedown on Schall and Schall went right through the ropes and head first through a chair. Medical staff rushed to the scene and he was carried out on a gurney. According to Monte Cox, Schall has a fractured or broken thoracic vertebrae. The Cabbage-Wiuff fight was the fight of the night, possibly the fight of the year. Wiuff did something that hasn’t happened to Cabbage since he was around three years old, pick Cabbage up over his head two times in a row! Wiuff picked Cabbage up like a sack of potatoes and slammed him to the mat. He then mauled Cabbage for the first round, but Cabbage’s ground defense kept him out of danger and minimized Wiuff’s damage. The second was Cabbage’s payback, as he made Wiuff pay every time he attempted a take down. The scorecards at the end of round 2 were a majority draw, which prompted a three-minute over time. Cabbage took advantage of the winded and hurt Wiuff and finished him off. That was a tremendously exciting fight. Sylvia bloodied a tough Jason Lambert until finally finishing him off in the second round. Due to a broken hand, Cabbage was replaced by Mike Whitehead. Whitehead dominated position on Ron Faircloth for the decision. Pearson started off the fight with a solid thigh kick and followed up with numerous kicks. Yagin appeared to be slightly more cautious than his usual "go for broke" style. Yagin waited for his opportunity and seized it by catching one of Pearson’s kicks and tripping him down. Pearson scrambled back to his feet for a double-leg takedown on Yagin and ate a hard knee by Yagin. Yagin went with the takedown, so that he could lock in a modified guillotine (one of Pearson’s arms was inside). Pearson tried to pry open Yagin’s hands but had to tap. Yagin is growing by leaps and bounds in every fight. It will be interesting to see which fighter will be next to test Yagin, because Yagin is taking out everyone placed in front of him. In a weird turn of events, Whitehead ended up facing Sylvia who beat him in the first match of the first round of the tournament. This time, Sylvia took a little under a minute less to beat Whitehead than the first time to become the Return of the Heavyweights Tournament Champion.
Tim Sylvia (Miletich Fighting Systems, Bettendorf, Iowa, 6’8" 265 lbs., 12-0)
Jason Lambert (Ted Williams Combat Grappling, Apple Valley, CA, 5’11" 245 lbs., 12-2)
Ben Rothwell (Freestyle Academy, Knish, WS, 6’5" 270 lbs., 14-1)
Cabbage Coreirra (Grappling Unlimited, Hilo, HI, 6’3" 291 lbs., 13-3)
Cabbage Coreirra broke his hand so Mike Whitehead replaces him.
Mike Whitehead (Medford, OR, 6’2" 260 lbs., 8-1)
Co-Main Event (Single Fight):
Pride Results Are In!
By Aaron Crecy