by Mitch Gobetz – MMAWeekly.com

Josh Barnett is really excited to get back in the ring on
Saturday night against former Pride veteran Gilbert Yvel.  Barnett, the No. 2 ranked heavyweight
by MMAWeekly.com, hasn’t fought since his redemption fight against Pedro Rizzo
back in July.


The layoff was too long for “The Babyface Assassin” who
would like nothing more than to stay active.  “It wasn’t all that great to have a lay off like that,” said
Barnett in a recent interview with MMAWeekly Radio.  “I tried to get a couple fights in between there, but it
couldn’t be worked out.  I’m really
glad to be back in the ring to be perfectly honest.”


Barnett was supposed to fight back in October at
Affliction’s sophomore show in Las Vegas, however the promotion was forced to
postpone the event after poor ticket sales and the saturation of the Las Vegas
market by current top dog promoter the Ultimate Fighting Championship.  Disappointed by the fact that he wasn’t
able to compete, Barnett feels that this event is going to be very important
for Affliction.


“I was very disappointed to say the least,” he explained.  “It ended up being that it had to be
done, I guess.  We’ll have to
really see how it all rolls out on the 24th.  It’s really important that we do a great job given the
opportunity.  My opinion was to
stay out of Vegas and go to Orange County.  That was my opinion and I can’t blame someone for trying.”


A long awaited fight with current No. 1 ranked heavyweight,
Fedor Emelianenko, has been a fight that has been talked about for a few
years.  There was some debate among
fans who was going to get the next shot at Emelianenko
after the July event since both Barnett and Andrei Arlovski had impressive
showings.  Arlovski will be the man
to take on the Russian on Saturday.


Instead of Fedor, Yvel was chosen to take on Barnett, who
feels that Yvel is a quality opponent.


“I was fine with that,” he stated.  “If they were going to give me a solid offer, then I’d take
it.  He’s got the credentials to
belong in the ring.  He’s got like
38 wins and 35 or something crazy like that are by knockout.”


A fight with Emelianenko is inevitable. If Barnett and Fedor
are both victorious in their respective fights, they are certain to square off
for Fedor’s WAMMA title.  Barnett
realizes this and hopes that Affliction will market and pay the fighters what
Barnett feels is fair for an elite level fight of that magnitude.


“Basically, I’ll be looking for that when Fedor and I
finally step in the ring. They better pony up the money to make it a huge
event.  I don’t think too far ahead
on things.  I’ve got Yvel ahead of
me and he wants to knock my block off and possibly bite it.  I got to make sure that I show up ready
to go.”


Emelianenko will take on Arlovski, the former UFC
heavyweight champion, on the same card. 
Arlovski is considered one of the fastest and most versatile
heavyweights in the world and could pose some problems for Emelianenko.  However, Barnett feels that Fedor has
what it takes to put “The Pitbull” on a leash.  “I think Fedor will put too much pressure on Arlovski and
put him on his back and that’s how he’ll win the fight.”


First things first, Barnett has a tall task ahead of him in
Gilbert Yvel.


Yvel has strong power and lethal hands.  Barnett has his own way of dealing with
Yvel and he won’t shy away from the stand-up.


“Slugfests, I’m fine with those,” said a confident
Barnett.  “I do okay.  I just got to make sure that he doesn’t
catch me with some shot where I’m not putting pressure on him and I’m not where
I need to be. He needs to be careful that I don’t get a hold of him and put him
on his back.  We’ll see what kind
of rhythm he can get going.  Even
if he thinks I’m going to be taking him down, I’m going to be hitting him.  When he thinks I’m going to hit him,
then I’ll try to take him down. So he’s going to be guessing.”


Gilbert Yvel Pre-Fight Interview


Arlovski Pre-Fight In-Depth Interview


Tito Ortiz On Roll As Commentator, Fighting Future


Oscar De La Hoya Talks Affliction & MMA


Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou Pre-Fight Interview


Chris Horodecki Pre-Fight Interview


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