Thursday, November 13, 2008

Little Evil [Book Review]

Genre - Biography
Year Published - 2003 (published by ECW Press)
Length - 188 pages
Written by Jens Pulver [with Erich Krauss]

Rating: 4 Skulls

Little Evil - One Ultimate Fighter's Rise to the Top:
Jens Pulver is lined up next to his two younger brothers. His drunken father lurches toward them with a shotgun, placing the barrel in Jens' mouth. At seven years old, Jens has already suffered a world of abuse. Staring down the length of steel into his father's bloodshot eyes, he braces for the almost welcome blast to bring an end to his life.

Years later, Ultimate Fighting Championship's Lightweight Champ Jens "Little Evil" Pulver walks down the aisle of a packed auditorium towards the Octagon, the blood-stained fighting pit where UFC warriors battle for supremacy. He blocks out the roar of the crowd to mentally prepare himself for the enormous challenge ahead - defending his title against contender B. J. "The Prodigy" Penn. But with each step he takes, his father's voice grows in the back of his mind, telling him what it always has - that he is going to fail. Once again, Pulver is trapped inside the nightmare of his childhood, and his only means of escape is his fists. Victory is his only chance of salvation.

Refusing to be defeated by his father's legacy of ferocious self-doubt, Pulver survives an adolescence scarred by horrific physical and psychological abuse. He struggles to overcome every obstacle that stands in his way, and guided by legendary trainers such as Bob Shamrock and Pat Miletich, Pulver goes on to defeat the likes of Alfonso Alcarez, Joao Roque, and Caol Uno. Eventually, he punches, kicks, and grapples his way into the world's fighting elite.
This is the incredible story of Pulver's grueling ascent to the top of the Mixed Martial Arts mountain.

Jens Pulver vs B. J. Penn [UFC XXXV - 2002]

B. J. Penn looking for an Armbar

Jens Pulver standing over B. J. Penn

Jens Pulver - UFC Lightweight Champion
[look at that face!]

After reading the Biographies of Ultimate Fighter's Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, and Matt Hughes, I came across this book - written in 2003, before any of the above.
The book starts off (as stated above) when Jens was only seven years old, and his father was about to blow his head off with a shotgun - what a powerful opening!
To quote a blurb on the back of this book, "Little Evil is not only a must-read for fans of mixed martial arts, but also a story that will touch and inspire anyone who knows what it means to battle personal demons and make peace with life's hard truths." This quote is right on the money!
Throughout Elementary (6th Grade) and High School, Jens was on the wrestling team. When Jens was in the 7th grade, he learned a lesson - "the goal doesn't mean anything - what matters is the path you take to get to it."
In College, Jens began entering underground fighting tournaments, in the 150 pound weight division. During one of these events, a fighter he was supposed to fight failed to show, so Jens chose to go ahead and fight a 210-lb fighter (60 pounds heavier!) After defeating this fighter, in less than 2 minutes, a guy who owned a local Jui-Jitsu Academy entered Jens into a Bas Ruten Invitational, where John Perretti [then UFC Matchmaker] was going to be.
When they arrived at the competition, the 150-lb weight division had been eliminated, due to lack of competitors, so Jens fought in the 170-lb weight division (at 150-lbs)
Needless to say, Perretti was impressed and added Jens to the Card of UFC XXII, which was going to have the 1st ever Bantamweight bout. Jens was going to fight the world-class kickboxer and MMA expert Alfonso Alcarez
[this was back in 1999, when Senator John McCain was trying to get MMA banned, for its seeming brutality. What I never knew was that McCain just so happened to be married to the Heiress of Budweiser - who was Boxing's biggest Sponsor - things that make you go hmmmmm]
Eventually, Jens realized that he needed more intense training, so he called up Bob Shamrock [father of fighter's Frank & Ken Shamrock] who is the Founder of the world-renowned Lion's Den. Jens wanted to get onto Bob's newly formed team - Shamrock 2000.
As things began to decline in the world of MMA, and after Shamrock 2000 was disbanded, Jens began training with Pat Miletich (as well as other other world class fighters, such as Jeremy Horn & Matt Hughes)
Jens practically lived at the gym. After afternoon practice ended, Jens would bed down in a corner of the gym, resting his body, so that he could come back strong for the evening session. He never went out socializing - he just ate, slept, and breathed fighting. It was around this time that he was given the nickname 'Little Evil' (due in part because he pushed himself so hard)
At the end of the book, when Jens tells about his title defense against B. J. Penn, you feel as if you are right there, in the Octagon, with Jens - he gives such a great description of the battle that took place!
If you are a fan of MMA, then I definitely recommend this book - even if you are not particularly a fan of Jens Pulver [I'm not really, nor am I a big fan of Matt Hughes, yet his book too is great!]

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