Former UFC lightweight champ Jens Pulver (23-14-1) this past Saturday submitted Mike Lindquist with a first-round rear-naked choke at an XFO event in Woodstock, Ill., snapping a six-fight losing streak.
It was Pulver's first win in over three years and would have retired had he fallen short against the unheralded fighter (6-20), Pulver said Monday on MMAFighting.com's The MMA Hour.
"Not ripping on Mike or anything," Pulver told host Ariel Helwani. "But it's time to start over and if I'm getting caught in the same things, hey, well, 'You got to go.' Done."
For fighters accustomed to competing in the major organizations, it's humbling having to return to the small shows, and it's probably more so considering Pulver's credentials, but Pulver believes it was the right step for him at this point of his career.
"I love it. I know what I'm doing," Pulver said. "I'm know I'm trying to rebuild. Am I trying to rebuild for a world title? No. I'm not trying to win no title ... I need to be rebuilding. I want to earn my way back if I ever get back. If I don't, hey, at least I tried. I fought, I did everything I could."
His goals as a fighter are much different than it's been in the past. Pulver continues to compete because he wants to put a smile on his face and to make all his coaches past and present proud. And most importantly, Pulver wants to go out on a high note.
"My goal is to put 'Lil' Evil' to bed in a proper, right way," Pulver said. "That's it for me. That is my goal, and act like the person I was, a former world champion, the guy who started the weight class, the godfather of the 155-pound division."
Pulver already has a fight scheduled for March 5, but a cut suffered at Saturday's fight could potentially prevent him from participating on that Chicago Cagefighting Championship card. According to Pulver, the cut he received Saturday was the first time he's seen his own plasma in a fight.
"That's the first time I've ever seen it dripping down my face. That was pretty wild," Pulver said.
Despite not knowing if he'll compete in March, Pulver plans on returning Wednesday to the Curran Martial Arts gym in Crystal Lake where he had the "greatest" two-and-a-half month training camp leading into the Lindquist bout.
Pulver, who said his mind and spirit were broken the past few years, will be looking forward to his next camp just glad to have "this monkey off my back," having finally stepped back on the winning track and remembering how it feels to have his hand raised.
"I'm going back to the gym, staying in shape," Pulver said. "I'm just having the time of my life right now."