Former Strikeforce champ in holding pattern until April 24 NSAC meeting
Tired of all this Alistair Overeem talk already? Well get used to it. It’s not likely to go away any time soon, or at least not until there’s some resolution with what will happen with the top contender for the UFC heavyweight title. And that resolution likely won’t come until April 24 at a Nevada State Athletic Commission meeting.
But whether you want it now, or want to refer to it later, here’s a primer on the career of Alistair Overeem.
Oct. 24, 1999: Overeem makes his pro MMA debut with a first-round guillotine victory in Holland. Four days later, he loses for the first time in a Rings event in Japan.
2000: Overeem goes 4-2 in 2000, fighting in Holland, Japan and Russia.
July 20, 2002: Overeem makes his Pride debut, getting his first bout in the Japanese promotion on the strength of a six-fight winning streak, all by stoppag and all in the first round. He beats Yusuke Imamura with a 44-second TKO.
June 8, 2003: At Pride 26, Overeem beats Mike Bencic in the first round with a knee to the body to improve to 16-3 – with 15 of his 16 wins coming in the first round.
Aug. 10, 2003: At Pride Total Elimination 2003, Overeem meets Chuck Liddell, who had entered the tournament after a loss to Randy Couture for the UFC interim light heavyweight title. Overeem lost for the first time in more than three years, falling victim to Liddell’s punches in the first round of the quarterfinals. (Liddell goes on to lose to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in the semifinals, and Rampage loses to Wanderlei Silva in the finals.)
Feb. 20, 2005: After three straight wins, including one at Pride 28, Overeem meets Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at Pride 29 and loses by unanimous decision, setting in motion a rather unlucky stretch of 13 fights that sees him go just 6-7.
April 23, 2005: After his loss to “Little Nog,” Overeem picks up what is the biggest win of his MMA career, a guillotine submission won over Vitor Belfort in the opening round of the 2005 Pride middleweight grand prix.
Aug. 28, 2005: In the Pride middleweight grand prix semifinals, Overeem loses in the first round to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
Feb. 28, 2006: At Pride 31, Overeem moves up to heavyweight and scores a first-round TKO of Sergei Kharitonov.
May 5, 2006: At Pride Total Elimination Absolute, Overeem is submitted by Fabricio Werdum in the first round of the open-weight grand prix tournament.
June 9, 2006: For the first time in his 30-fight career, Overeem travels to the United States for a fight. He rematches with Belfort in just the second event in Strikeforce history and wins a unanimous decision in a 210-pound catch weight bout.
July 1, 2006: Less than a month after his second win over Belfort, Overeem returns to Pride in Japan for a light heavyweight rematch with Nogueira. And again, he comes up short – this time losing by TKO when his corner throws in the towel
Sept. 10, 2006: For the first time in more than six years, Overeem loses back-to-back fights when he is forced to tap against Ricardo Arona thanks to some severe strikes that injure his leg.
Feb. 24, 2007: At Pride 33, which takes place in Las Vegas, Overeem gets his rematch with Rua. And again, he falls victim to Shogun’s strikes, even quicker in the first round than their first meeting. It’s his third straight loss and fourth in five fights.
Sept. 17, 2007: After a win over Michael Knapp in a K-1 MMA bout, Overeem rematches with Kharitonov, whom he beat a year and a half earlier. But this time, Kharitonov gets the better of Overeem and after forcing him to retreat with strikes in close quarters, he lands one last knockout punch that sends Overeem to his knees, draping outside the ropes.
Nov. 16, 2007: With a record of 25-11 and four wins in his last six fights, Overeem returns to Strikeforce and fights Paul Buentello for the first heavyweight title in the promotion’s history. A series of knees to the midsection in the second round wind up making Buentello quit, and Overeem has his first major championship. He will not defend the belt for two and a half years, fighting exclusively overseas, leading to widespread speculation among fans that use of performance enhancing drug testing in the States is a chief reason he has not fought here.
2008-2009: In fights for Dream and Dynamite in Japan, and Ultimate Glory in his home country of Holland, Overeem goes 6-0 with a no contest against Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic after hitting him with a pair of low knees. He also continues his professional kickboxing career in this period, reaching the K-1 Grnad Prix semifinals in 2009 before losing to Badr Hari after being knocked down twice.
May 15, 2010: Overeem finally defends his Strikeforce heavyweight title for the first time and fights for just the third time in the United States. He knocks Brett Rogers out in the third round in St. Louis. It winds up being the only time he defends his belt.
June 18, 2011: As the heavyweight champion in the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix tournament, Overeem is the favorite. But in a rematch with Werdum, who submitted him with a kimura five years earlier, Overeem wants nothing to do with going to the ground – and that’s the only place Werdum wants to be. Overeem grinds out a unanimous decision win in a fight that has the fans booing both fighters. But he moves on to the semifinals to face Antonio Silva, who had upset Fedor Emelianenko, spoiling what would have been a blockbuster fight for Strikeforce and likely its biggest bout in its history.
July 17, 2011: After public squabbling over when he would fight in the tournament semifinals, and four months after Strikeforce is purchased by Zuffa, Overeem is announced as being out of the tournament. Daniel Cormier is announced as his replacement.
July 29, 2011: Less than two weeks after the shock of Overeem’s tournament ouster, bigger news hits when he surprisingly is released from the promotion – as the Strikeforce heavyweight champion. But behind the scenes, rumors run rampant that Zuffa’s difficulty negotiating with Overeem’s Golden Glory management team have played a hand in his release. Other Golden Glory fighters under contract with Zuffa, including former women’s champion Marloes Coenen, also are released. UFC president Dana White later says Golden Glory’s negotiating terms were not acceptable to the UFC.
Sept. 6, 2011: Just about a month after his Strikeforce release, Overeem signs a contract to come to the UFC, agreeing to a Dec. 30 fight against former champion Brock Lesnar to determine the top contender for the heavyweight title.
Dec. 12, 2011: Overeem is granted a conditional license by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for his fight with Lesnar. A flap ensued when the NSAC requested a pre-fight drug screening that Overeem didn’t submit. After repeated attempts from the commission to get a sample from him, Overeem sent a wrong sample – blood instead of urine – then sent a sample provided by his own doctor and not an NSAC-approved doctor. Terms of the license say that Overeem must be tested in Europe before the fight, tested when he lands in the States for the fight and tested twice randomly after the fight.
Dec. 30, 2011: Overeem needs less than half a round to stop Lesnar with a first-round TKO thanks to a massive kick to the body. He advances to a title fight against Junior dos Santos, who beat Cain Velasquez the month prior for the title.
Jan. 2, 2012: Overeem is accused of a physical altercation with a woman at the Wynn in Las Vegas and eventually is charged with misdemeanor battery.
Feb. 10, 2012: UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, on a Twitter binge, says that Overeem is slated to meet dos Santos for the title at UFC 146, the promotion’s Memorial Day weekend card in Las Vegas. Around the same time, Overeem is closing a deal to join the team at Imperial Athletics with new manager Glenn Robinson to be a part of the “Blackzilians” training camp in Boca Raton, Fla.
March 6, 2012: The UFC makes UFC 146 official with dos Santos vs. Overeem as the headliner for the heavyweight title.
March 27, 2012: Overeem attends a pre-fight news conference for UFC 146 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas along with opponent dos Santos, plus fellow main card heavyweights Frank Mir, Velasquez, Roy Nelson and Antonio Silva. All are given random, surprise pre-fight drug tests by the NSAC.
March 28, 2012: Overeem gets a suspended sentence of 90 days, plus 50 hours of community service in the battery case.
April 4, 2012: NSAC executive director Keith Kizer sends an e-mail to media members informing them Overeem has failed the pre-fight drug screening given on March 27. Kizer says Overeem’s testosterone levels are in excess of 10:1 (testosterone-to-epitestosterone). The NSAC’s limit is 6:1. It is later revealed that the level was 14:1. On a pre-planned conference call with media members in Canada, White expresses extreme unhappiness with Overeem for the positive test and says he is unsure what will happen with the fighter, but that his future in the UFC didn’t look good, given the circumstances.
April 6, 2012: The UFC reportedly files for a license for Overeem for the May 26 fight against dos Santos. A hearing is scheduled for an NSAC meeting on April 24, where his license will either be approved or denied. To date, Overeem has not yet requested his “B” urine sample be tested.
So … what’s next?
It’s fairly cut and dried, actually. Overeem’s license has been applied for. But because of the positive test, he will have to appear before the NSAC. That meeting takes place April 24 at 9 a.m. Pacific time. If Overeem explains himself to the commission’s satisfaction, the members could vote to approve his license – and then, in all likelihood, the fight against dos Santos would stay as the main event of UFC 146. Of course, given his history with the commission in December, and the positive test he’s currently in the doghouse for, the NSAC could choose to deny his license application. And with no license to fight in Nevada, that would mean he would be out of the fight with dos Santos. The UFC likely has put itself in a holding pattern until it gets official word after the hearing in two weeks.
No Overeem means dos Santos would need a new opponent. White has said the co-main event on May 26 between Mir and Velasquez will go on as planned. But Mir, especially, would remain a viable option to step in and fight dos Santos for the title early. The Mir-Velasquez fight is a No. 1 contenders bout to get the next shot at the title. Mir has won three straight. Velasquez’s last fight was a knockout loss to dos Santos in November, when he surrendered the title.
Additionally, there has been a big public response for Mark Hunt to get a shot. He, too, has won three straight. He would have to be moved out of a UFC 146 bout against Stefan Struve. Dan Henderson, who has fought at both light heavyweight and middleweight in recent years – and in a catch weight bout against Fedor in what amounted to a heavyweight fight last July – has said he’d take the shot if given it. And White told HeavyMMA recently that Henderson’s next fight was going to be a title shot, but either at 205 or 185. But that was before the heavyweight dilemma came about.
Other options include Werdum, who fell victim to dos Santos’ heavy hands in dos Santos’ UFC debut at UFC 90. He has won four of five since then, losing only to Overeem by decision and beating Fedor. He is supposed to fight in June. And then there’s the two longest shots: Fedor and Lesnar. Bringing Fedor on board has gotten some traction with fans across social media, even though White has been adamant about having no interest in signing him. He has not commented publicly about the Russian since the Overeem situation came to light, but Fedor has a fight scheduled for June in Russia. And Lesnar? Well, he’s back in the WWE with a new 1-year deal. He lost to Overeem in December, and the court of public opinion would like to see that loss overturned to a no contest given the circumstances. But he was pretty steadfast in his retirement in December, and getting him to come back for a shot at dos Santos likely would take getting WWE boss Vince McMahon to let him out of his new deal for the fight. Even if Lesnar and the UFC were interested, it’s probably the longest shot of all.
So what does it all mean? It means if you’re holding your breath for some resolution to this situation, you’re probably going to be waiting two weeks. April 24. That’s the commission hearing in Las Vegas, and that’s when we’ll know if Overeem will officially be denied his license. The UFC could, in theory, make a decision before that – and White may be working behind the scenes on the backup plan to announce shortly after the hearing, assuming Overeem is indeed going to be out of the fight. But for all intents and purposes, we’re on hold for two weeks.
And that means two weeks of guesses and speculation about what will become of the UFC 146 main card on April 25.