Yates chasing his UFC dream
Former Central wrestler
In a few months, mixed martial arts fighter Andrew Yates has seen his stock sharply rise. The former Central High School wrestler began his MMA career after choosing not to compete in college wrestling.
His dad, Steven Yates, was at one point his manager.
Since then, Yates has compiled a 7-0 professional record, according to mixmartialarts.com and sherdog.com, the two main ranking systems for non-Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) professional fighters.
Yates, 24, was featured on SpikeTV last October as one of the top three unsigned fighters in the country. UFC legend Wanderlei Silva, at whose Las Vegas gym Yates trains, mentioned the 135-pound fighter on national television.
Now the three-time Cage Wars winner has a UFC tryout today.
The UFC has open tryouts every few months for any fighter with a winning professional record who wants to attend. Even though the tryouts are open, a handful of fighters receive invitations. Those fighters tend to be watched closer by scouts, Yates said.
Less than a month after signing with Empire Fight Management, a sports management firm, Yates received an invite, and he hopes, a shot at a UFC contract.
“I’ve had managers calling me since I was featured on Spike,” Yates said. “We took our time to find Empire, who have managed top fighters like Donald Cerrone and Shane Carwin. Both of them fight in the UFC and have won titles. Hopefully they’ll move me along faster and get me where I want to be. I’m hoping to be there in the next few months.
“I’m still looking for a long-term deal. I’d rather go straight to the fights rather than the Ultimate Fighter (reality TV show).”
After fighting in Cage Wars XIV at Brownson Arena in January, Yates said his management company pulled him off any future fights, and advised him to wait for the “big show.”
Yates coached teammate Paige VanZant during her first-round submission of Courtney Himes during Cage Wars XV on April 6.
Yates was recently featured in a promotion event with UFC fighters where all eight of the managers under Empire Fight Management flew to Las Vegas from California to watch Yates train.
“I just want to get to top 10 in the world as fast as a I can,” Yates said.