The Ultimate Fighter
"I’m really eager to go in and destroy my opponent, and it’s not the smartest move, but it’s in my genes and it’s what I learned when I was young. You go in there and try to knock the person out."
A fighting landmark is fast approaching for Gilbert Yvel. It is a blessing and also a curse to be a fighter, as the constant menagerie of ups, downs and in-betweens can haunt you, and to have milestones come across your lap in this game is rare indeed.
This Saturday, October 23, 2010, will mark the Yvel’s 14 year anniversary as a fighter, an accomplishment not many can claim. In those 14 years Yvel has seen his share of glory, both achieved and stolen, and throughout the whole time he has only sought to stay relevant amid the positive bustling times that MMA has now undergone worldwide. To his delight and chagrin, the game and its players have evolved and he has been studiously observing the whole journey.
“Back in the day, it was just get in the ring and fight, but now there’s a whole game plan like an American football game,” says the veteran Yvel. “It doesn’t matter how strong you are or how fast you are or how good you’ve got it, if you don’t have a good game plan they’ll just take everything away from you. Nobody wants to stand with me; they’ll just take me to the ground because that’s my weak point. They are so smart and now I have to learn an all-new game. I’m really eager to go in and destroy my opponent, and it’s not the smartest move, but it’s in my genes and it’s what I learned when I was young. You go in there and try to knock the person out. You don’t run or try to take somebody down or hide or whatever; you fight and it’s a little bit different now.”
In American marital folklore, a 14-year anniversary is classified as the ivory anniversary and since in this case MMA is the loving spouse of Yvel, ivory, with its hard, yet regal, veneer, is the perfect accompaniment to Yvel’s milestone. Like Yvel it is rare and considered old school luxury, fitting since this PRIDE vet has survived wars inside rings and cages across this planet that most fighters can only wish to enter into. His list of competitors reads like a who’s who of MMA dossier. With wins over Pedro Rizzo, Gary Goodridge, Fabiano Scherner and Cheick Kongo, Yvel has seen the best of the big men during their prime. Now planted in the UFC heavyweight division, Yvel hopes to further propel his name and career amid the new giants of the game.
“The whole game is so different after the 14 years since I started, and everyone is so smart and using tactics. They’re not going toe-to-toe anymore, everybody’s moving, everybody’s getting better stand-up, everybody’s getting better on the ground,” says an excited Yvel. “Only a game plan can make the difference for a fighter. I think if half of the fighters fought without a game plan and without all the tactics like back in the day, nobody would’ve made it. But everybody’s so smart right now. Every single heavyweight with a smart game plan and a strategy can be champion, that’s how I see it.”
After two showings in the UFC, Yvel has yet to live up to his former glory within the Octagon’s hallowed walls. Falling first to Junior Dos Santos via first round TKO at UFC 108 and then via unanimous decision to Ben Rothwell at UFC 115, Yvel is in need of some resuscitation, but to him, it is simple preparedness and conforming to the new school ways of tactics and strategy that will move him past these losses.
“My first Junior Do Santos fight I took it on really short notice and I wasn’t really prepared and I lost, but it happens,” said Yvel. “My second fight was really tough against Ben Rothwell. We were so focused on the stand up fighting and our game plan wasn’t perfect for that fight, but he just took me down the whole time and I just didn’t train my wrestling. I’m learning a lot of stuff right now.”
On the day of his anniversary, Yvel faces a new challenger in undefeated Jon Madsen. This being Madsen’s fourth UFC visit, with all the others going his way, Yvel definitely will find a perfect storm of new meets experienced on this special day. Yet to Yvel, Madsen is just another guy who probably won’t want to trade blows with the always-dangerous veteran.
“Madsen’s a good wrestler and I don’t really like wrestlers because all they want to do is take it to the ground, but I’m really prepared,” said Yvel. “This is a good fight for me maybe because I have more experience than him and the only thing he knows is wrestling. Stand up is his weakness and he also doesn’t have that really good jiu jitsu. I have good jiu jitsu but it doesn’t come out all the time because my wrestling sucks. Let’s just say his only strong point is wrestling. Give me until after the fight, let me first knock him out and then I can tell you all about why that was a good fight for me.”
Having incorporated new staples into his training regimen like morning running, which Yvel hates, sprints in the evening, which Yvel never did until this camp, and training with Muay Thai trainer, Shawn Yarborough, MMA training with John Lewis and the addition of a former Boise State wrestling coach, Yvel is ready to change his UFC course. Now if only someone will stand with him.
“What I like to give people is action. I like to fight with no emotions, I just go in the cage and try to knock my opponent out I think it’s why most of the people love me because that’s what I always like to do. Of course, there are some awesome ground fighters, but I think people like the action. I step in the ring and I show people I just want to fight, I want to destroy my opponent, and I want to knock him out. There’s no other way for me.”