It was a sad night for fans hoping to see UFC legend Jens Pulver succeed and pave a way to an eventual end to his career on a high note. Former retired fighter turned trainer Brian Davidson ran with the opportunity to fight such a high-profile name and impressed, submitting Pulver in the first round of action on Friday night at Titan Fighting Championships 18 in Kansas City, Kansas.
The bout was contested at a catchweight of 140 pounds after Pulver's original opponent, Mike Powell, was pulled from the card due to a breach in his contract with the promotion. Unfortunately, that may have hurt Pulver's chances as Pulver seemed to be overwhelmed by the speed and striking prowess of Davidson in the early minutes of the fight. Pulver desperately tried to maintain his legs, but the lankier Davidson continued an onslaught of speedy kicks and punches while Pulver flailed around the cage, attempting to evade his impending doom.
As the fight wore on, Pulver was able to find some success in taking Davidson to the ground. Similarly to the stand-up department however, Jens was unable to find any holes in Davidson's game that were big enough for him to exploit. Holding a tight closed guard and keeping Pulver's posture locked down, Pulver had no choice but to stand up and try to slug it out. Pulver was outmatched, leading to another desperate attempt to take the fight to the ground to wear down Davidson. Davidson reversed the final attempt in the scramble, gained top control, and took the back of the former UFC lightweight champion, choking him out only seconds later.
In defeat, Pulver remained a class act, but told HDNet commentator Frank Trigg, when asked about retirement, that he would go out on his own terms, not when fans think he should retire. Pulver is currently 3-2 in his last five appearances against markedly lower level competition. It is up to Jens Pulver to determine when the time is right for him to retire, but one must wonder if this one-sided contest to what was perceived as a less than stellar opponent may be the tipping point for Jens to consider it the end.
In the co-main event of the evening, three-time NCAA Division I wrestling champion and former UFC fighter Jake Rosholt battled John Ott at a catchweight of 200 pounds. Ott, who may be most well-known for battling Bobby Lashley back in March at TFC 17, was completely overwhelmed by brutal ground and pound and slicing elbows from Rosholt for a majority of the fight. As the fight wound down to a close, Rosholt unintentionally kneed Ott in the face as Ott was ascending from a position against the fence. The knee visibly stunned Ott, eventually causing the doctor to stop the fight and disqualify Rosholt.
Controversy was already prevalent in the previous rounds of the bout however. Ott was cut in seven different spots on his face at various instances in the first, second, and third round of the fight, and his face, by the second round of action, looked like something out of a Wes Craven horror flick or a brutal murder scene. The doctor had stepped in at one point to check on Ott's lacerations, deeming him fit to fight by merely asking him if he was okay. Most of the fan reaction to this blatant disregard for the fighter's safety was met with disappointment. It doesn't change the fact that Ott proved he has a drive within him that many fighters don't possess, but it was clear that Rosholt was the better fighter despite not having his hand raised.
Jake's brother, Jared Rosholt, extended his undefeated record to three wins by burying heavyweight challenger Kirk Grinlinton in only 1:37 seconds. After an initial scare on the feet in the early moments of the round, Rosholt took down Grinlinton into mount and pounded him out quickly.
Perhaps the most exciting fight of the evening came between middleweights Rudy Bears and Darryl Cobb. Kickboxing dominated the action early as both men traded kicks to the legs, body, and head often. Cobb was the first to find the mark with one of his punches, but Bears nearly knocked out Cobb cold only moments later as he retreated to recover. A wobbly Cobb was unable to defend against Bears' ground game following the knockdown, giving up his back after Bears transitioned to full mount. Bears quickly threatened with a rear naked choke, quickly locking it on an ending the fight in the opening frame.
In other action, Bobby Cooper used superior striking technique and a reach advantage to pepper Nick Budig with strikes from range to win a 176 lb. catchweight encounter via unanimous decision. Local talents Joe "The Nose" Wilk and Jesse Zeugin squared off in a lightweight affair that ended when Wilk slyly snuck in a gator roll choke in the latter half of the first round. And last but not least, Sean Wilson weathered an early storm to submit Deryck Ripley via toe hold.
Titan Fighting Championships 18
Memorial Hall, Kansas City, Kansas
Brian Davidson def. Jens Pulver via submission (RNC), R1, 4:04
John Ott def. Jake Rosholt via disqualification (knee to grounded opponent), R3, 4:23
Rudy Bears def. Darryl Cobb via submission (rear naked choke), R1, 3:30
Jared Rosholt def. Kirk Grinlinton via TKO, R1, 1:37
Bobby Cooper def. Nick Budig via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Joe Wilk def. Jesse Zeugin via submission (anaconda choke), R1, 3:36
Sean Wilson def. Deryck Ripley via submission (toe hold), R1, 2:00