No contingency plan announced yet in event Overeem can’t fight
Cross another UFC 146 main event possibility off the list – perhaps.
UFC president Dana White early Saturday, responding to a fan on Twitter, said the scheduled May 26 co-main event bout between former heavyweight champions Frank Mir and Cain Velasquez still “will happen” on the pay-per-view card. And that all but eliminates the likelihood that one of them would be asked to step in to the main event to fight Junior dos Santos for the heavyweight title.
The main event between dos Santos and top contender Alistair Overeem currently is in jeopardy thanks to a positive test from Overeem for elevated testosterone levels. The Dutch fighter, the former Strikeforce heavyweight champion, can request that a second sample be tested. If that sample can back negative, it would increase his chances of being licensed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Overeem is not officially off the card – but given his history with the NSAC his appearance on the card seems to be a long shot at best.
Overeem reportedly has indicated he plans to appear at the next NSAC hearing on April 24. He has not yet applied for a license for the May fight. Though he fought in Las Vegas in December, it was with a conditional license thanks to a flap with the commission over a pre-fight drug test for UFC 141. Included in the conditions for that license, which he was given to fight Brock Lesnar, was a stipulation that he be tested twice randomly in the six months following the fight. One of those tests came last month at a pre-fight press conference for UFC 146 in Las Vegas, and it was that test that produced Overeem’s positive result. His testosterone-to-epitestosterone levels came in in excess of 10:1, according to the NSAC – and the number reportedly was 14:1. The NSAC’s maximum is 6:1; most other state commissions have a level maximum of 4:1. The average male produces testosterone at a 1:1 level.
White, on a conference call with Canadian media the day the positive test was announced by the NSAC, was livid and alluded to Overeem’s future with the UFC being in jeopardy beyond just the status of whether he will be allowed to fight dos Santos next month. And White no doubt immediately began working behind the scenes to figure out a plan of attack for UFC 146 under the probability that Overeem will be out.
The leading candidate to step in to challenge dos Santos for the belt, which he took from Velasquez in November, appeared to be Mir. Mir has won three straight fights, including a brutal submission of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in December – not only becoming the first man to submit him, but snapping his arm in the process. Velasquez, on the other hand, will be fighting for the first time since losing the belt to dos Santos with a first-round knockout. So elevating him to a rematch might seem an odd choice compared to Mir.
But if White sticks to his Twitter affirmation that Mir-Velasquez will remain on the card, that conversation would be moot. UFC 146 is an all-heavyweight main card. Mark Hunt is on the show already, meeting Stefan Struve to open the pay-per-view. An online contingent has risen up in the last two days, hoping to get some traction behind a campaign to see Hunt challenge dos Santos for the title. After losing six straight MMA fights, Hunt has won three straight, including a knockout of heavyweight contender Cheick Kongo.
Two of the most prominent names in MMA heavyweight history have been bandied about since the Overeem news broke, but both appear to have extremely long odds at finding their way to the fight, should Overeem indeed be pulled from the fight. Former champion Lesnar retired after his loss to Overeem in December – a fight that many are now lobbying to have changed to a no contest in the wake of Overeem’s positive test and in light of the issues that occurred with him and the NSAC prior to that fight. But Lesnar earlier this week returned to the WWE on what is believed to be a one-year contract worth $5 million. That contract likely comes with a non-compete claus, so seeing him slide back over for a late-notice fight against dos Santos, especially after he planned to retire anyway would be improbable. And Fedor Emelianenko, long considered the greatest heavyweight of all time, has won two straight fights since his three-fight skid in Strikeforce. White and Fedor’s M-1 Global team have had a highly contentious history when it comes to trying to bring the Russian fighter to the UFC – mostly thanks to an insistence by M-1 that it co-promote the card. Though White in recent weeks has said he has no interest in signing Fedor, that too may be moot if he was bluffing since M-1 on Friday announced Fedor will fight June 21 in Russia.
Additionally, former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson, who has been on the sidelines since a November win over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua has tossed his hat into the ring. Henderson said on his Twitter account, responding to a fan asking if he’d take a fight with dos Santos if offered: “For sure.” White told HeavyMMA’s Megan Olivi last month that Henderson has asked for a title shot, either against the winner of Jon Jones-Rashad Evans in two weeks at UFC 145, or against the winner of Anderson Silva-Chael Sonnen, which takes place in June. Henderson regularly has competed at both light heavyweight and middleweight. But he also has fought above the light heavyweight limit recently, meeting Fedor in what amounted to a heavyweight bout.