Tuesday, December 11, 2007

WEC 31: Jens Pulver vs. Cub Swanson - Preview, Analysis, and Opinion

By Nathan Schafer

145lb Featherweight Bout
Jens Pulver (21-8-1) (0-0) vs. Cub Swanson (11-1) (2-0)

Jens Pulver is making his long awaited WEC debut in a bout that was originally scheduled for WEC 30 in September against up and comer Cub Swanson. Pulver was forced to off the card due to a knee injury; but for Swanson, it was worth the wait. Pulver will be the most high profile fighter Swanson has ever faced. Both fighters realize that with this win they are almost guaranteed a chance to fight for the WEC Featherweight Championship. This fight also features two men with rough upbringings and similar lives. With a win, it appears Swanson could follow an almost identical path as Pulver, one that could mean becoming champion someday.

Jens Pulver

Jens Pulver is a legendary MMA fighter who needs no introduction. He holds accomplishments on his resume that few fighters will ever attain. The highpoint of his career came in February of 2001 when he defeated Caol Uno to become the first ever UFC Lightweight Champion. He had two successful title defenses against Dennis Hallman at UFC 33 and BJ Penn at UFC 35 before leaving the UFC due to a contract dispute. After that move, his career would become a roller coaster of ups and downs as he began to live and die by the KO.

At Pride’s Shockwave 2004 he fought made his Pride debut against Takanori Gomi in an exciting stand up war before being knocked out. He spent the next year and a half in that organization compiling a (2-2) record. In April of 2006, he beat Cole Escovedo in the IFL with a KO in under a minute. That same year the UFC was about to reopen the 155lb lightweight division, a weight class that had remained dormant for nearly three years. Riding a two-fight winning streak, the UFC welcomed Pulver, the former champion, back with open arms.

Lil’ Evil was set to make his return against then unknown and UFC newcomer Joe Lauzon at UFC 63 in September of 2006. Pulver was a heavy favorite in the fight, but Lauzon destroyed Pulver in 48 seconds by KO and left everyone wondering WTF just happened. It was clear that Pulver could no longer compete at 155lbs and should drop down to a more natural fighting weight of 145lbs.

To celebrate the reopening of the 155lb weight division, The Ultimate Fighter Season 5 would showcase all lightweight fighters and feature BJ Penn and Jens Pulver as coaches. The finale’s main event would feature the Penn vs. Pulver rematch. This would be an attempt by the UFC to create a star in Penn who was riding a two-fight losing streak at the expense of Jens Pulver. Many believed Pulver didn’t stand a chance against a more mature version of Penn. Pulver made it clear before the fight that win or loss he was moving to WEC to fight in the 145lb division. In the TUF Finale 5 in June, Penn dominated Pulver from start to finish and won by rear naked choke in round 2.

Cub Swanson

Cub Swanson fights out of the OC Muay Thai gym in California under the legendary Shooto veteran fighter Erik Paulson. He has an (11-1) MMA record and is riding a 10-fight win streak. His only loss came at the hands of Shannon Gugherty in 2004; a loss he was able to avenge in a 2006 rematch. He is a King Of The Cage veteran and holds a win over a tough Charlie Valencia. In that bout he was being dominated and taken down easily. He was able to get back to his feet multiple times and sealed the deal with a TKO finish late in the first round.

Since joining the WEC he has two wins. His first WEC win came against Hellhouse/Gilbert Grappling team member Tommy Lee at WEC 26 in March of this year. In that bout he was able to secure a first round win via a guillotine choke. Swanson’s next fight would be against an undefeated Micah Miller at WEC 28 in June. In that contest he was able to control Miller on the ground to win via unanimous decision. Swanson has won the Pan American Jiu-Jitsu tournament as a blue belt and also has won various Grappler’s Quest tournaments in the no-gi division. This is definately the biggest fight of his Swanson’s career and a win over a legendary name in Pulver would most likely assure he fights for the featherweight title against the winner of the Curran vs. Faber fight.


I believe this bout will unfold as a stand up battle. Unfortunately for Cub Swanson his striking is not on the same level as the more experienced Jens Pulver. The question to be answered is how serious was the injury to Pulver and has he fully recovered? Has it hampered his training and cardio? This factor could be the detrimental and balance the scales creating a more even matchup especially if the fight goes into the later rounds. Cub Swanson has been training up in Big Bear, California for this fight and looks to make a name for himself with a win over a legend. Jens Pulver is undefeated at (7-0) in fights at 145lbs; my prediction is that he goes to (8-0). Prediction: Jens Pulver wins via TKO in round 2.

Here’s a look at the full card:

WEC 31
The Joint – Hard Rock Casino & Hotel
Las Vegas, Nevada

WEC 145lb Featherweight Title Bout
Urijah Faber (19-1) (4-0) vs. Jeff Curran (28-2-1) (2-0)

WEC 185lb Middleweight Title Bout
Paulo Filho (15-0) (1-0) vs. Chael Sonnen (19-8-1) (1-0)

145lb Featherweight Bout
Jens Pulver (21-8-1) (0-0) vs. Cub Swanson (11-1) (2-0)

WEC 205lb Light Heavyweight Title Bout
Doug Marshall (6-2) (6-2) vs. Ariel Gandulla (4-0) (1-0)

135lb Bantamweight Bout
Brian Bowles (3-0) (1-0) vs. Marcos Galvao (6-1) (0-0)

135lb Bantamweight Bout
Charlie Valencia (8-3) (1-1) vs. Ian McCall (5-0) (1-0)

170lb Welterweight Title Bout
John Alessio (20-10) (4-1) vs. Todd Moore (9-0) (0-0)

185lb Middleweight Bout
Bryan Baker (5-0) (1-0) vs. Eric Schambari (7-0) (2-0)

155lb Lightweight Bout
Alex Karalexis (9-2) (3-0) vs. Ed Ratcliff (5-0) (1-0)

This article was originally posted on www.wicombatsports.com on 12-10-07.

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