Ivan's Blog

Featuring Ivan Trembow's Self-Important, Random Rants on Mixed Martial Arts, Video Games, Pro Wrestling, Television, Politics, Sports, and High-Quality Wool Socks

Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Mixed Martial Arts Flashback--- Gilbert Yvel's Request for a Fighter's License Gets Rejected by Nevada Commissioners
by Ivan Trembow

Longtime fans of MMA were surprised and appalled when Affliction recently announced that Josh Barnett's opponent on their January 24th event would be Gilbert Yvel.

Besides the fact that it's a mismatch for Barnett, who is the #3-ranked heavyweight in the world based on MMAWeekly's World MMA Rankings, there's also the fact that Yvel is universally regarded as the dirtiest fighter in the sport.

Yvel has been disqualified numerous times, and also attacked a referee in 2004. Affliction is apparently feeling more desperate than tasteful, because attempting to book Yvel to fight on your show is a tasteless move.

Of course, Yvel can't fight in California unless he is granted a fighter's license by the California State Athletic Commission. No self-respecting athletic commission would grant Yvel a fighter's license after everything that he has done, but then again, no self-respecting MMA promotion would attempt to book Yvel on their show, and yet here we are.

Here's what happened in early 2007 when Yvel requested a fighter's license from the Nevada State Athletic Commission, as I wrote in an article on MMAWeekly.

Pride Fighting Championships previously submitted the match-up of Sergei Kharitonov vs. Gilbert Yvel to the Nevada State Athletic Commission for approval as part of the February 24th line-up, but the NSAC would not approve the fight without a special hearing due to the fact that Yvel has been disqualified on three separate occasions in his MMA career, most recently when he brutally attacked the referee during a 2004 fight in Europe.

Yvel was asked to explain his actions in each of his three disqualifications. Yvel remained calm and polite throughout the hearing, but he also seemed to be oblivious to the fact that the NSAC did not understand his justifications for his actions.

In regards to his first DQ loss, which took place in 1998 when Yvel bit his opponent, Yvel said that he was "really young and had a really bad temper" at that time. Yvel said, "My opponent, he gave me a headbutt, and I told the referee, but the referee was like, 'Nothing is happening.' And then he did it again with the headbutt, and that was what caused my reaction, to bite him."

Yvel's second disqualification loss was in a 2001 fight against Don Frye, during which Yvel repeatedly eye-gouged Frye. Regarding this incident, Yvel explained, "Don Frye is a very, very strong man, and he was pushing all his body strength against me. I just put my fingers against his nose to push him away from me, and I wasn't really paying attention to what place my fingers were, and my finger slipped on to his eye. It was in the heat of the moment and I can tell you it was not my intention to put my finger in his eye."

The most infamous incident was in 2004 when Yvel got into an argument with the referee during a fight in Europe and proceeded to punch the referee in the face and then kick him.

The commissioners were familiar with the incident and seemed disgusted by it: "This commission has all seen the video of the punching and kicking of the referee... I've never in my life seen somebody do what you did. What was going through your mind?"

Yvel gave a very long response, which was interrupted several times as the commissioners tried to get him to talk about the pivotal moment where he decided to attack the referee.

The following are excerpts from the full response: "In that fight, I fought almost for free... the referee was the trainer of my opponent, the promoter of the event, and he kept us waiting for four hours to pick us up at the airport [before the event], and then at the gym he kept us waiting for three more hours. We were just waiting and waiting..."

This was one of the several occasions when the commissioners seemed to be very frustrated, as they interrupted Yvel and said, "I want you to tell me what went through your mind when the referee broke up the fighters and you felt the need to hit the referee in the face and then return back and kick him. What were you thinking?"

Yvel said "sorry" and was polite at all times during the hearing, but he seemed to be oblivious to the commissioners' frustration. Yvel continued, "In the bout, I punched my opponent really hard and he didn't want to fight anymore. He didn't want to fight anymore and we almost fell out of the ring! He was ready to walk away from the fight, he wanted out of the fight, but the referee was trying to pull him back into the fight, and he said, 'Stop, don't move.' And when the referee says, 'Stop, don't move,' then you're supposed to go to the center of the ring in the same position. But he didn't do that, he put us in the center of the ring standing up. He put us standing up instead of on the ground, and that's not right. The referee put me in a bad position and my opponent in a good position by doing that, and the referee was screaming at me, and he was pulling at me. He was screaming and pulling, screaming and pulling, and at that moment, I am there to fight..."

At this point, the commissioners interrupted again, sounding fed up and saying, "Mr. Yvel, Mr. Yvel, you've got 30 seconds. The floor is yours for 30 more seconds."

At that point, Yvel finished up by saying, "And at that moment, I got mad and I hit the referee and I kicked him. Yeah."

With Yvel having explained all of his problems with the referee, the commissioners unanimously agreed to deny his application for a fighters' license. This is not like a suspension where the fighter can't fight anywhere in the world for a certain period of time; Yvel simply can't fight in Nevada because he is not being given a license to fight in Nevada.