Alistair Overeem has been knocked out…of UFC 146. UFC president Dana White made it official on Twitter and announced that Frank Mir vs. Junior Dos Santos for the UFC heavyweight championship at UFC 146.
The UFC president sent out the tweet that shook the heavyweight landscape shortly before midnight on Friday.
“Taking off to Atlanta!!!! May 26 th is now Mir vs JDS for the HW title in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand.”
The circumstances surrounding the sudden fight change are a little suspicious. We all know that Overeem tested positive for high levels of testosterone two weeks ago. Overeem had a hearing scheduled for April 24 to get licensed for the fight. According to many close to the situation, it was believed that Overeem would somehow beat the system and get licensed. Well the UFC took the cards out of his hands and made the former Strikeforce heavyweight champion fold.
The reaction to this on the Internet is very mixed. Some believe that giving Overeem the fight if he somehow got licensed would send a bad message to the world about the UFC’s attitude towards PEDs. Others felt that Overeem should at least be given the right to defend himself before making a decision. Needless to say, the decision to change the fight before the hearing is making waves in the MMA world.
As for the fight change, the reaction I have read has been mostly negative. A lot of fans are very upset about the change, although to be fair the UFC weren’t the ones who created the situation. Dana White had an “interesting” Twitter conversation back and forth with one fan who felt the need to tell him that he was now staying home rather than attending UFC 146.
I think the real determining factor here at the end of the day was Junior Dos Santos. Junior Dos Santos will be fighting on May 26. Up to this point, he trained for Overeem. A fight change made on or after April 24 would give the champ little time to alter his training and game planning. JDS didn’t cause the situation, so it would be unfair to punish him with the short turnaround time. While he still only has slightly over a month to prepare, at least he can continue training knowing who his opponent is on May 26 without any doubt in camp.
The fight change leaves Cain Velasquez with a new opponent. Mixed reports indicate that Velasquez will now face UFC newcomer Antonio Big Foot Silva at UFC 146. Ironically, this fight was rumored as the original comeback fight for Velasquez months ago. This is a much more intriguing fight in my opinion than Mir vs. Velasquez. I am not convinced that Big Foot is as good as the fighter that beat Fedor, but he is certainly more than capable of pulling off the upset. This also cancels the equally intriguing Silva vs. Roy Nelson fight. It should be noted that MMA reported Ariel Helwani denies that this fight has been signed. Another report indicates plans for a Velasquez vs. Fabricio Werdum fight that could possibly be moved to UFC 147.
It will be interesting to see what happens on Tuesday the 24th. As of press time, Overeem is still scheduled to appear at the hearing to get his license. If Overeem won’t be fighting in the near future, he will likely withdraw his application. Ariel Helwani summed up the situation better than anyone via tweet.
“Here’s one angle that is important to note regarding Overeem: if he is denied a license on Tuesday, that could affect his entire 2012. However, he can ask the NSAC to withdraw his license application. The NSAC can grant his request or not — it’s up to them. If they do so, he can start from square one and potentially avoid any kind of punishment or layoff, if he is guilty of what he is being accused of, when applying for a license elsewhere. That could be the reason for the timing of this change. That’s pretty much the only explanation I can think of without talking to anyone from Overeem’s camp or anyone from the UFC on the record. As of now, he’s still on Tuesday’s agenda. And speaking of Tuesday, that’s when the UFC Rio presser is supposed to happen. What an interesting day that will be (although it got a little less interesting with tonight’s announcement). ”
The new main-event certainly isn’t as sexy as the original. However, I don’t know how you could give anyone else the fight but Frank Mir. Quite frankly, Mir should have gotten the fight in the first place. Mir is in the midst of a three-fight win streak in the UFC. He has beaten three of the elite heavyweights in the division in a row. Anything else would have been unfair in my opinion.