We all know that Dana White is a gambler but he is taking a big one at UFC 156. Alistair Overeem is scheduled to return but will not be stepping right back into a title fight. The former champion will instead have to go throw a giant en route to a championship fight.
“Come Dec. 27, he’s like any other fighter,” NAC executive director Keith Kizer said. “He’s free to apply for his license. The commission will not do it administratively, however. He has to appear at a commission meeting.”
This is an interesting fight on a lot of levels. UFC president Dana White has hinted several times that Overeem would fight for the title on his first fight off of suspension. White was criticized in some circles for rewarding Overeem with an immediate title fight, yet White appeared to be sticking to his guns. There was even talk at one point of cancelling the planned Junior Dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez UFC heavyweight title fight and sticking Overeem in there. Something happened and it now appears that Overeem will once again have to earn his title shot.
I have mixed feelings on this one. On the one hand I do think that the UFC has been way too soft on PED offenders. I thought rewarding Overeem with an immediate title shot sent a bad message. On the other hand this is a business and the best thing for business is Overeem challenging for the UFC title immediately. Putting Overeem in a fight prior to that title opportunity is a big risk which could blow up in the UFC’s faces.
Now do I think that Silva will defeat Overeem? Not at all but stranger things have happened. Silva is a unique opponent and while I don’t think he is as bad as he looked against Cain Velasquez, I also don’t think he is as good as he looked against Fedor. I wouldn’t pick him but he is the kind of a fighter that will pull off an upset or two just due to his freakish size. Overeem should be able to pick him apart up top but if Silva can take him to the ground the K1 Grand Prix champion could be in serious trouble.
It has been a long time since Alistair Overeem looked bad in a heavyweight fight in America. You could argue about the Fabricio Werdum fight but at the end of the day Werdum wasn’t able to take him down. Overeem should roll fairly easily over the big man. However, what will the UFC do if there is an upset? There is no other challenger at heavyweight that has the box office appeal of Overeem outside of Cain or JDS. The UFC is already counting on Overeem’s heavyweight title fight as one of its big fights of 2013. Putting him in there with someone like Silva is incredibly dangerous yet some will say the right thing to do for the integrity of the sport.
Needless to say the UFC will have millions of dollars on the line at UFC 156.