Inaugural UFC Lightweight Champ Jens Pulver Announced for Promotion’s Hall of Fame

Jens Pulver UFC
Jens Pulver Credit: Martin Hocson/

The UFC’s inaugural lightweight champion will be inducted into its Hall of Fame later this year.

During Saturday’s UFC 284 broadcast, Jens Puver was announced as one of 2023’s inductees into the UFC Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will come as part of International Fight Week this summer.

Pulver will enter into the Pioneer Wing of the Hall.

The first lightweight fighter to headline a UFC event, Pulver debuted in the octagon at UFC 22 in September 1999, fighting to a draw with Alfonso Alcarez. To that point, Pulver had competed on two occasions for the Bas Rutten invitational.

Pulver would return to the UFC the following year, while also fighting outside the promotion. A win in his second outing in the organization led to a shot at the UFC’s inaugural 155lb title against Caol Uno. Pulver would win that fight, then defend his belt twice, against Dennis Hallman and B.J. Penn.

The Penn fight marked the first time 155lb fighters had topped a UFC card.

A pay dispute would lead to Jens Pulver leaving the UFC without ever losing his title. He would continue fighting on the regional circuit and in PRIDE, while also trying his hand at a boxing career. Despite a 4-0 run in the sweet science, Pulver would turn his focus back to MMA, and eventually return to the UFC, where he appeared as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter 5 opposite B.J. Penn. The pair would fight in a rematch at the end of the season, with Penn this time getting the upper hand.

While Pulver would later compete for the WEC and continue fighting until 2013, his heyday was unquestionably in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, where he helped launch the lightweight division.

“Jens Pulver is a pioneer of the sport who was not only the first lightweight champion in UFC history, but someone who delivered some of the sport’s most memorable moments,” said UFC President Dana White in a press release distributed immediately following Saturday’s announcement. “No one will ever forget his knockout of John Lewis or his win over BJ Penn in their first fight, and his fight against Urijah Faber in 2008 was the biggest fight in WEC history at the time. Jens could do it all in the Octagon, and it will be an honor to induct him into the UFC Hall of Fame this summer.”