by Brian Lopez-Benchimol – MMAWeekly.com
Affliction refugee Gilbert Yvel now has a home… the UFC.
When Affliction entertainment nailed up the shutters, the famed Dutch striker was left in limbo. He had been vocal about his UFC aspirations in the past, but nothing was set in stone until Gabriel Gonzaga was forced to withdraw from his bout at UFC 108, opposite rising contender Junior Dos Santos.
From there, negotiations sped up and the Pride veteran quickly inked a deal with the UFC to fill in for “Napao” for the televised portion of the Jan. 2 fight card.
His original bid for UFC stardom wasn’t without its fair share of problems, but it’s all smooth sailing now.
“It was difficult with all the problems we had in the past and I was just waiting for the chance,” Yvel commented in regards to contract negotiations due to his rocky past. Bad-boy antics in full swing overseas, “The Hurricane” is infamously known for his mid-fight confrontation with a referee in 2004, after refusing commands given by the official.
Since the incident, amongst others in his past, Yvel has received counsel and returned to the good graces of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The commission previously denied Yvel a standard license to compete due to his history.
Past indiscretions behind him, the 33-year-old is now primed for the big time.
“It’s the biggest show in the world and it’s like a dream for everybody,” Yvel said of the UFC while speaking with MMAWeekly Radio recently.
“This is like the highest point you can reach. It’s still a little bit difficult to believe, but I am in the UFC.”
Having faced off against the likes of Cheick Kongo and Josh Barnett, and holding a recent first-round knockout victory over former UFC title challenger Pedro Rizzo, he will have no easy transition when he takes on one of the heavyweight division’s elite in Dos Santos.
“What better way to prove myself than to knock out Dos Santos,” said the jiu-jitsu purple belt.
“He’s a strong guy; he’s a tough guy. If I play my game and I be relaxed, and listen (to my corner) through the whole thing, I won’t, I hope there won’t be no problems because he is a good fighter, but his stand-up game is not in my league.
“We can play that game all night. I don’t see any trouble.”
Though fighting in the UFC for his first time to open the New Year, Yvel shows the kind of poise and confidence that a man of over 50 mixed martial arts fights should exude. It’s an almost brutal honesty, which the kickboxing expert hopes to make Dos Santos realize on Jan. 2.
“For sure I’m going to knock him out,” said the Las Vegas resident. “I do MMA to knock somebody out, because then you know you won. He’s on the ground. He’s sleeping, you’re standing, and it’s better than after two rounds the judge says to tell you who is better.
“If I knock him out then I did my job and nobody can say anything.”