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|Little Evil to headline at Target Center|
|Written by Ben Pherson|
|Saturday, 06 November 2010 15:26|
On Saturday, matchmaker Gavin Rydell announced the headliner for December's mega card at Target Center. And Rydell will be bringing a former UFC champion to Minneapolis.
Jens "Little Evil" Pulver will fight in the main event of the CFX/Extreme Challenge co-promoted event in the venue that once housed the UFC. Pulver was the UFC's first-ever lightweight champion.
Pulver is one of just two fighters ever to defeat B.J. Penn at lightweight. He first won the UFC belt in 2001 by defeating Caol Uno. He would defend his belt with decision wins over Dennis Hallman and Penn before the UFC eliminated its lightweight division.
After beating Penn, Pulver's next fight outside of the UFC in 2002 was actually in Minnesota. He fought at Ultimate Wrestling Minnesota: Pulver vs. Emerson, and defeated Rob Emerson by decision.
Pulver joined Pride from 2004-06. Then he came back to the UFC when it reintroduced the lightweight division in the second part of 2006.
Since then, he has struggled. Pulver lost his first two return fights in the UFC to Joe Lauzon and Penn and then dropped to the 145 weight class in the WEC. He won his first fight in the WEC but then dropped five straight before leaving the organization.
Pulver comes to Minnesota having lost six straight and eight of his last nine fights. Rydell said he's desperate to get his career back on track, and he's hoping that will happen here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
"We're really excited to have him up here fighting in Minneapolis," Rydell said. "He's obviously a legend, one of the best ever. We're honored to be able to see him fight here in Minnesota. It's not every day that a UFC champion fights here. Jens wants to keep fighting, but he knows he needs a couple of wins to keep doing that. He hopes to start that here in Minnesota."
Pulver will be taking on veteran Frank Johnson (6-3) of St. Paul.
Rydell had hoped to add one other big-time name to the card: Bobby Lashley. However, a contract dispute with Strikeforce means Lashley will not be competing at Target Center ... at least not yet.
"We were looking at putting Bobby Lashley on the card, but unfortunately due to the Strikeforce situation, we are unable to do so at this time," Rydell said. "But we definitely look forward to having him here in Minnesota some time in the near future, and he'll be a person of interest for sure on our next big show."
Though Lashley is out, there still are three other UFC veterans, in addition to Pulver, on the card, and all have Minnesota ties.
UFC and WEC veteran Tommy "The Farmboy" Speer is set to compete. Rydell is trying to set up a fight for Speer against 50-fight veteran Chuck Parmelee, though Parmelee has yet to agree to terms. "It's a fight we're definitely looking to make happen, and it's just a matter of numbers right now," Rydell said.
Speer most recently earned a unanimous decision victory over standout Ashkan Morvari in Rochester this summer. The former "The Ultimate Fighter" cast member brings a 15-5 record into the fight, including a two-fight winning streak.
Also on the card will be UFC and Pride veteran Travis "Diesel" Wiuff. The Rochester resident is 60-14 in his long career, but he's coming off a devastating knockout loss to fellow UFC veteran Tim Hague.
Wiuff and Speer train at the Mario Roberto Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Rochester.
Wiuff will be taking on Vince Lucero (19-16), who trains with UFC vets C.B. Dollaway, Ryan Bader and Aaron Simpson in Arizona.
Paul Bradley of the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy also will be in action. "The Ultimate Fighter" and Strikeforce veteran is coming off of a win over Johnny Rees at Shine Fights in September. Bradley appeared on the seventh season of TUF and defeated Reggie Orr before being forced to leave the show due to a skin virus.
Other pro fighters scheduled to compete include Adam McDonough, Jay Wood and Morvari. Rydell said he is hoping to add at least one more elite pro fight, possibly pitting one of Minnesota's best 145-pounders against a high-level out-of-state competitor.
Wood and McDonough are set to clash in a battle of ranked 170-pounders. "I can't wait to see that fight," Rydell said.
Several of the Midwest's best amateurs also will be action.
Undefeated Mankato sensation Dan "The Hitman" Moret is scheduled to take on Corey Anderson of Anytime Fight Club. Anderson is Brutaal Genesis' welterweight champion, and Moret is that organization's lightweight champion. Anderson is planning a permanent move to 155.
Mikey Zimmer is taking on Byron native and Minnesota State, Mankato student Eric Yngsdal at 155 pounds. Zimmer trains at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy, and Yngsdal is a former state wrestling champion.
Mankato's Justin Rheaume will take on Heath Rud in a 185-pound showdown. Rud trains with Logan Clark in Rochester. Also in action is Justin "King" Kratzke. Rydell still is searching for an opponent for Kratzke. Finally, Brandon Noetzel will be in action.
"I think the amateur fights have the potential to be some of the best on the card," Rydell said. "It's one of those things where all of these amateurs are in a spot where if they win this fight, they're probably ready to turn pro. All the amateurs matchups will be outstanding; we wouldn't put amateurs on a card like this if they weren't great matchups."
Rydell had hoped to put together a matchup of two of Minnesota's best heavyweights in Kevin Asplund and Zak Jensen. However, that fight fell through this week.
"I couldn't get the numbers figured out fast enough, and while I was figuring things out, Zak planned a trip out of state at the time," Rydell said. "I apologize to the fans of Minnesota for that. I really, really wanted this fight to happen, but I couldn't get the contracts ironed out in time, and now Zak planned the trip, so it's not going to happen at this show. I'm really sorry to Kevin and his whole camp and all of his fans, because we wanted this fight for sure."
Tickets for the Target Center show go on sale Wednesday. Tickets will be available through ticketmaster.com, the Target Center box office or from participating fighters.
Rydell expects the complete fight card to be ironed out within the next week.