MMA wants to be mainstream but sometimes it's extremely lucky that the bulk of the media hasn't latched onto the sport. Consider the firestorms that exploded around guys like Pacman Jones, Robbie Alomar and Michael Vick for their transgressions.
MMA's version of these guys is Gilbert Yvel. His resume of thuggery is pretty deep but outside of MMA hardcores no one really knows Yvel. Alomar spit on an official and look at the explosion of emotion and criticism that he endured. Along with several cases of dirty tactics in fights, Yvel has had two altercations with referees. In the second case, he punched the referee square in the jaw. So with all the heavyweights that Affliction's Tom Atencio could choose to fight Josh Barnett at the Affliction 2 Jan. 24 event, why Yvel:
"Does the guy have a checkered past, yes," Atencio told Cage Writer in a recent interview. "Who are we to question a fighter?"
Atencio (pictured) went on to explain that fighters need to be viewed differently when they lose their cool because they participate in a violent sport and often come from rough backgrounds:
"This guy's a fighter, he's emotional. People don't fight because they're methodical, people don't fight because they think about things. They fight because that's how they grew up."
Click below to listen to Atencio speak about Yvel:
If that's the case, why have rules in place and furthermore why discipline a fighter for acting like a buffoon?
TUF 7's Jesse Taylor should be allowed to go on a drunken Las Vegas rampage because he's a fighter?. We're not allowed to criticize TUF 8's Junie Browning when he gets into multiple fights and embarrasses the UFC on national television because he's a fighter? Renato Sobral should be able to lock on a choke for a few extra seconds and refuse to release the hold when the official says so because he's a fighter?
Pouring salt in the wound, now you've got his opponent, Barnett stating that he'll maim Yvel for life if he crosses the line. What if some of these quotes were introduced into the New York discussion as part of Assemblyman Bob Reilly's push to keep the sport banned?
The CBC did a great job of using Dana White quotes to paint the UFC president as an evil leader. Whether he is or not, that's for you to decide. If taken out of context, how bad do Atencio's comments about the average background and general mindset of fighters reflect upon the game?
Atencio did admit that he is taking the risk and that he'll be called a jerk if Yvel goes off the deep end. Yvel is still not licensed by the California State Athletic Commission for the fight. Nevada did deny Yvel a license in the past.
Photo via CombatLifestyle