Change announced by Dana White late Friday
Dana White apparently didn’t need to wait for the Nevada State Athletic Commission to meet on Tuesday.
Late Friday, the UFC president announced on his Twitter account that former champion Frank Mir will meet Junior dos Santos for the heavyweight title at UFC 146 next month. Mir will step in for Alistair Overeem, who had been the top contender after his win over Brock Lesnar in December.
But Overeem ran afoul with the NSAC when a pre-fight drug test in late March was red-flagged due to elevated testosterone levels. Overeem’s testosterone-to-epitestosterone level was reportedly 14:1. The NSAC’s accepted level is 6:1. Other state commissions have an allowed level of 4:1.
Overeem was scheduled to hear his fate on Tuesday at a scheduled NSAC meeting in Las Vegas. In essence, the commission would listen to Overeem’s explanation for his elevated levels and, if acceptable, the members could vote to grant him a license for the May 26 fight. Or his license could be denied, which would take him officially out of the fight against dos Santos and would leave the UFC scrambling for a replacement for the main event.
Though White has mostly withheld comment, perhaps waiting for the results of the commission’s hearing, his tweet said it all. “May 26th is now Mir vs JDS for the HW title in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand,” White said.
Mir had become the leading candidate to step in for Overeem should he need to be pulled from the fight. He was already training for a No. 1 contenders fight on the card against Cain Velasquez in the co-main event. His three-fight winning streak, including a December submission of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, made him the best fit to fill in since Velasquez’s last fight was a first-round knockout loss to dos Santos.
Though fans tried to get some traction behind Mark Hunt as a candidate, White said last week in Sweden that fight was not going to happen and Hunt will still fight Stefan Struve on the card. At that time, he wouldn’t speculate on what might happen with Overeem.
There is no word yet on what will happen with Velasquez on the card now that Mir has moved out of the co-main event slot against the former champion. Velasquez, in Atlanta for UFC 145, on Thursday said he was continuing to train for a fight with Mir despite rumors Mir might be called upon to fill in for Overeem. He also said Mir would be the appropriate choice, given his three-fight winning streak.
Overeem was able to request a second sample be tested, but he apparently never asked the NSAC to do so. He also reportedly was not planning on using a therapeutic use exemption defense, in which he could claim doctors prescribed testosterone treatments for him due to low levels.
In December, Overeem had to appear before the NSAC by phone in order to get a license to face Lesnar in the main event of UFC 141. He was granted a conditional license at that hearing with the understanding that he would submit a fresh urine sample within 72 hours, take another test upon arriving in the United States for the fight and pass two random drug tests requested by the NSAC within six months following the Lesnar fight.
Overeem’s license application was brought to question at that time because he failed to give a mandatory random sample the month before the fight. The follow-up requests from the NSAC took days to get sorted out, and when Overeem did submit a sample it was a blood test, not a urine test as requested. But once all was said and done, Overeem appeared to have satisfied the commission enough to get his conditional license, and he beat Lesnar with a first-round TKO to earn his shot against dos Santos.
At a March 27 pre-fight press conference in Las Vegas for UFC 146 featuring six of the heavyweights on the main card, all six fighters were given random tests. Only Overeem did not pass his test. The other five fighters who were tested were dos Santos, Mir, Velasquez, Roy Nelson and Antonio Silva.
Though elevated testosterone levels are not an automatic for use of an illegal performance enhancing drug, the United States Anti-Doping Agency sees elevated testosterone levels with the possibility that there “may be an indicator of use of a prohibited substance.”