Yerlikaya twice won Olympic gold in the Greco-Roman style: 1996 in Atlanta, 2000 in Sydney. At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, he was fourth. In addition Yerlikaya 1993, 1995 and 2005 world champion and 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2006 European champion. The Wrestling World Championships 1997 he won silver and at the Wrestling World Championships 2006 bronze.
Yerlikaya was voted the best wrestler of 2005. For his contributions to the sport wrestler he was taken in September 2009 in the FILA International Wrestling Hall of Fame.