One of the most interesting matchups taking place this weekend should be the classic battle of youth vs. experience in the featherweight bout between Jens "Little Evil" Pulver and Josh "The Fluke" Grispi.
At only 20 years of age, Grispi has been involved in 13 professional MMA bouts, and he's only been past the first round once in his career. The Boston-area native has been surprisingly effective in both the grappling department and striking game for such a young competitor, and he's been able to knock off veteran fighters such as Micah Miller and Mark Hominick in quick fashion. Grispi will be looking to reenact the upset win by Joe Lauzon at UFC 63 over Jens Pulver. Interestingly enough, Lauzon is also a Boston-area fighter and defeated Pulver at only 22 years of age.
Jens Pulver will come into this matchup with a plethora of worldly experience ranging from competition overseas in PRIDE to battles in the Octagon in front of national audiences in the UFC. Pulver brings a solid background in wrestling coupled with a heavy-handed striking game that is much more technical in nature than most featherweights and even lightweights possess. He also personifies a passion for fighting, and he's a man who wears his emotions on his sleeve when talking about this sport.
When asked whether or not he would think about retiring from the sport following his second loss to WEC poster boy Urijah Faber, Pulver was reduced to tears. With fans cheering him on during his exit speech, Pulver truly showed why fans have rallied behind him regardless of who stood in front of him in the cage. He's a true class act.
Now, Pulver is once again on the verge of being questioned about the possibility of retirement. The WEC has promoted one of the brightest young prospects in the featherweight division to test his abilities at the ripe age of 35. A loss could be the definitive answer to the question while a win may give Pulver hope to continue fighting. Grispi stands to gain a substantial amount of limelight with a win, and it will surely further along his progression into becoming a title contender.
I'm definitely a biased party in a conversation involving picking this fight. I am a fan of everything Jens Pulver represents within this sport. He's a truly a class act that all MMA fighters should aspire to be inside and outside of the cage.
Putting my biased mind on the back burner and throwing my bettor's cap on, this is a very tough fight to call. Grispi has shown a toughness that can only be explained by his fearlessness and youth. He has a well-rounded skillset, but his ground tactics could pose the greatest threat to Pulver. Jens will likely want to bang out a victory on the feet as he's the best striker that Grispi has seen in his career, but the jury is still out on whether or not he'll be quick enough to catch Grispi. Grispi will enjoy a lengthy advantage as he's 5'11" taking on the shorter Pulver at 5'7". My gut tells me we'll see a passing of the torch, but I'll still root for Pulver to pull off the win.
In any case, this is an absolute must-see matchup. Check it out on the main card at WEC 41 on Sunday evening at 9 p.m. ET on the Versus Network. Check out the rest of our WEC 41: Brown vs Faber II coverage.