Monday, April 2, 2007

Finale of Season 5 of The Ultimate Fighter TV show promises to be painful

(CP) - They don't like each other and it shows.

And come June 23, mixed martial arts fighters Jens (Lil Evil) Pulver and B.J. (The Prodigy) Penn are each planning an evening of pain for the other in the finale of Season 5 of The Ultimate Fighter reality TV show. As rival coaches, Pulver and Penn will meet in a rematch of UFC 35, when Pulver defended his 155-pound title against Penn in January 2002.

The bad blood between them has been amplified during the six weeks spent filming the TV show that begins Thursday (10 p.m. ET).

"That guy's not going to beat me at checkers, he's not got to beat me at cards, he's not going to beat me period," Pulver told The Canadian Press. "I am not going to lose to this man.

"This man has no respect for me. He is what gets me up in the day, what motivates me right now. I'm going to put my hand right into his mouth and I'm going to knock the smile right off his face."

Penn, who believes Pulver has ducked him ever since their fight, also is spoiling for the fight.

"I saw he was saying in some interview he was going to knock out eight of my teeth or something. This guy's just talking crazy," he said. "Hysteria's kicking in and the day he never thought would happen, it's coming close. I want to fight him."

While the two clearly know that such drama helps boost TV ratings, the bottom line is both men could use a win. Pulver is coming off an upset loss at UFC 63 to Joe Lauzon, one of the cast members of Season 5. Penn's last two fights were losses to welterweights Matt Hughes and Canadian Georges St. Pierre.

Pulver, 32, says the show has revitalized him.

"I loved it. I think for me, it was absolutely life-altering, 100 per cent something I needed. It came at the perfect time as far as where I was at in my career, how I felt in my career. This show came around and completely re-energized me, revamped me, got me ready to fight again."

Penn, 28, is a former title-holder at 170 pounds and hints he may not stay at lightweight.

"I haven't really got in the ring yet so it's tough to say. We'll see what happens. I'll be at 155 for this fight, I'm not thinking past it yet. I don't know if I'm going to stick around to fight around at 155, I've just got to see how it feels."

Like Pulver, Penn acknowledges the pace of the show - daily training plus 14 fights in six weeks took its toll.

"It was physically, mentally and emotionally just draining. Just being there every day, going to the gym, watching all the fights and going through the whole thing. But all in all it was a good experience."

The Penn-Pulver fight should be a barnburner if it lives up the hype of the participants.

Lightweight contender Joe Stevenson suffered his first loss at the hands of Pulver when he was just 16. But he picks Penn to win.

"He's more mature and he's a better all-round fighter," he said.

Fellow lightweight Kenny Florian, who has trained with Penn, expects more fireworks during the show before the two step in the cage.

"Both guys really want to punch each other in the face. They don't like each other and I'm sure they're going to vocalize that during the show."


On the Internet


Past Ultimate Fighter Winners

(CP) - A look at past casts of The Ultimate Fighter reality TV show:

Season 1

Light-heavyweight: Forrest Griffin defeats Stephan Bonnar.

Skinny: Griffin remains one of the most popular 205-pounders but crushing loss to Keith Jardine at UFC 66 has knocked him down the light-heavyweight rankings.

Middleweight: Diego Sanchez defeats Kenny Florian.

Skinny: Now fighting as a welterweight, the unbeaten Sanchez will probably fight for the title if he gets past Koscheck at UFC 69 on Saturday.

Alumni to Watch: Mike (Quick) Swick, Josh Koscheck.

Season 2

Welterweight: Joe Stevenson defeats Luke Cummo.

Skinny: Now a 155-pounder, Stevenson anticipates a title shot against the winner of Sean Sherk-Hernes Franca, providing he beats Melvin Guillard on Thursday on the Ultimate Fight Night televised card.

Heavyweight: Rashad Evans defeats Brad Imes.

Skinny: Now a 205-pounder, Evans has won four straight since the show and most recently stopped Sean Salmon with a highlight-reel kick to the head. Is working his way to a title shot.

Alumni to Watch: Guillard.

Season 3

Light-heavyweight: Michael Bisping defeats Josh Haynes.

Skinny: Injuries and visa problems have prevented England's Bisping from building on his win in the U.S. He posted a so-so win over Eric Shafer at UFC 66. The UFC is looking to him to bring in the English fans at UFC 70 later this month in Manchester.

Middleweight: Kendall Grove defeats Ed Herman.

Skinny: Grove has only fought once since the show, posting a win over Chris Price. He tackles Alan Belcher at UFC 69 on Saturday.

Alumni to Watch: Matt Hamill.

Season 4

Welterweight: Matt Serra defeats Chris Lytle.

Skinny: Serra finally gets his title shot against Montreal's Georges St. Pierre at UFC 69. He is a huge underdog.

Middleweight: Travis Lutter defeats Montreal's Patrick Cote.

Skinny: Lutter blows it when he fails to make weight for title shot at Anderson Silva at UFC 67. Fight goes ahead as non-title bout and Lutter acquits himself well against the Brazilian before being submitted.

Alumni to Watch: Chris Lytle.


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