Late Friday, April 20, Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White announced via his Twitter account that #1 contender Alistair Overeem was pulled from his scheduled bout with reigning champion Junior dos Santos and was now replaced with former 2x champion Frank Mir. Mir was originally slated to compete against recently dethroned champion Cain Velasquez in the card’s co-main event that would be contested as a #1 contender’s bout to decide who would take on the victor of Dos Santos vs Overeem, but Velasquez will now take on former Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix semifinalist Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in the new co-main event. Silva was also originally slated to compete on this same card against former IFL and TUF10 winner Roy Nelson, whom is expected to remain on this card to take on a new opponent as Silva’s replacement. The remaining two bouts on the main card pitting former title challenger Gabriel Gonzaga against undefeated Strikeforce import Shane del Rosario, and young Dutch star Stefan Struve against former K-1 kickboxing champion Mark Hunt so far have remained unaffected by the recent rearrangements in the card and will likely remain in place.
Following the pre-event press conference for UFC 146, all fighters attending the conference were subject to an unannounced drug test enforced under the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s recently adopted policy to conduct random testing for fighters when within or scheduled to compete within the state. With hype built up for the event that would showcase a main card stacked with Heavyweight talent leading into the main event where the division’s title was on the line with the true #1 Heavyweight in the world finally to be decided, fans and analysts were in a state of shock when the NSAC released the news that #1 contender and former Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem had tested with elevated levels of Testosterone to Epitestosterone with a ratio of 14:1, a level that was more than double the authorized Testosterone to Epitestosterone ratio of 6:1 by the commission to compete and be licensed in the state. With this news, the biggest promotable Heavyweight title fight in the sport was put in jeopardy along with Overeem’s reputation. Overeem and his team refused to comment on the situation and were scheduled to appear before the commission at a hearing on April 24 to present an explanation for the cause of the elevated Testosterone to Epitestosterone levels so that the commission could pass judgment on whether to permit him a license to compete at all.
Fans should recall that leading up to his promotional debut for the UFC, Overeem ended up in a tough situation with the commission for missing the assigned timing for a drug test that was required to be licensed by the state, and after going through the process of having to retake the test and be subject to tests following the bout, the commission permitted him a temporary license so that he could compete in the assigned bout that was only weeks away. Though the UFC is supportive of Overeem as he heads into his hearing before the commission with licensure to compete still being a possible outcome, the UFC needed to ensure that a legitimate contender could be brought in to take Overeem’s place against Dos Santos so that both would have a reasonable amount of time to formulate new strategies on just a few weeks notice and so the promotion for this event could be reformatted. Should Overeem be denied a license to compete and face possible suspension, his career with the UFC could be cut short with possible release or have to settle for inactivity with the suspension.
New UFC 146 Main Card lineup at this time:
- (C)Dos Santos vs Mir – Heavyweight championship bout
- Velasquez vs Silva – #1 contendership is not confirmed for both fighters this new match-up but is likely for Velasquez if victorious
- Nelson vs TBA – At this time it is expected that Nelson will remain on the card with a new opponent to be announced soon. Currently undefeated competitor Travis Browne appears to be a likely choice coming off a quick Rnd1 Submission win at UFC 145 relatively unscathed and with a consensus of fans supporting the choice.
- Gonzaga vs Del Rosario – One of the two originally scheduled bouts still on the card
- Struve vs Hunt – One of the two originally scheduled bouts still on the card
Written by @MMAFanHQ