Tuesday, February 20, 2007

World champ's life has been a fight for survival

By Erick Walker

He has endured more self-doubt, bruises and bloody lips than he cares to talk about. And that was before Jens Pulver ever stepped into an octagon ring. In a life filled with hard knocks, bad breaks and emotional setbacks because of an alcoholic and physically abusive father, Pulver is alive.

And is still fighting.

Some say he's a tick or two off. Even crazy. The fact is Pulver, a 1993 Tahoma High graduate and world champion ultimate fighter, is a walking, breathing contradiction. Nice as Dr. Phil one moment, extolling advice to troubled youth, fiery as a pit bull that hasn't been fed in weeks the next.

"I am not flashy, I am not rich," says Pulver, talking about an upcoming fight. "If you want to go to hell, you have to come to hell to find me and I will drown you in deep water once you get there." Pulver, known simply as Lil' Evil in the ring, has been to hell and back. He has been to the bottom, risen to the top, been beaten down and done some beating up.

Brash. Honest to a fault. Heavily tattooed. Raspy voice. Pulver is more bark than bite. "He's a good little Jekyll and Hyde," former Tahoma teammate and three-time state champion Ricky Christian said. "He's kind of all over the place. Depending on the day you get him, however he feels is how he's going to come across. If he's in fight mode, he'll trash talk. If he's not in fight mode, he will be a little different.

"But his heart's always in the right spot."

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