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The Ultimate Fighter Finale: Penn vs. Pulver

Of all the moves the Ultimate Fighting Championship has made in its journey from nearly banned "human cockfighting" to widely accepted mainstream sport, the smartest was starting its own reality TV show.

The Ultimate Fighter has become a big hit (at least by Spike TV's standards) and has introduced the sport of mixed martial arts to millions of new fans. The show takes 16 prospective fighters, puts them in a house together for training, and pits them against each other in a single-elimination tournament.

The show's fifth season will conclude this weekend, with the two finalists from the initial 16, Manny Gamburyan and Nate Diaz, taking to the Octagon. But that fight may be overshadowed by a main event between a pair of former champs, Jens Pulver and B.J. Penn, who have a long rivalry and have served as coaches through the show's fifth season. After the jump, a full preview of Saturday night's finale.

What: The Ultimate Fighter 5 Finale

When: 9 p.m. ET Saturday

Where: The Pearl at The Palms, Las Vegas

Who: In the main event, former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver (21-7-1) takes on former UFC welterweight champion B.J. Penn (11-4-1)

How: Live on Spike TV

About Jens Pulver:
A great profile in today's Orange County Register documents the way Pulver took up wrestling at a young age and found that the sport helped him cope with growing up in an abusive household.
"I grew up abused," he said. "I grew up scared. I grew up with a father always hitting me.

"I was always wondering when he was going to get (ticked) off again. When my brothers got in trouble, I did whatever I could to take the beating. Nobody got hit but me if I could help it. I would try to take the beatings for them, you know. Whenever he got mad, I would try to put the attention on me."

Pulver's fight Saturday will be his first since he lost to Joe Lauzon in September.

About B.J. Penn:
Penn lost his UFC title to Pulver (correction: Pulver was already the champion) in 2002, and there's been bad blood between them since. Penn explains:
After the fight he would try to be real cordial and respectful to my face and then every time I would read an interview all he was ever doing was talking s---. After a while it builds up and just gets to you and then you just want to take care of the problem and get rid of it.
Penn has been angling for a rematch for years. Like Pulver, this will be his first fight since a loss in September.

More information:
Official web site
The Ultimate Fighter 5 at Wikipedia
Ultimate Fighter at UFC Mania
Ultimate Fighter 5 at UFC Junkie

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