Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Dana White reiterated after UFC 153 that Alistair Overeem's first fight back after a hiatus caused by a failed drug test would be a shot at the UFC heavyweight title.
UFC President Dana White said Saturday night that the current plans have Alistair Overeem facing the winner of the Dec. 29 fight between UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos (15-1) and former champion Cain Velasquez (10-1).
"Yes, that's what we're thinking," White said to Ariel Helwani in an interview after UFC 153 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Saturday night. "We'll see how this thing plays out and what happens. Nothing is done. Nothing is etched in stone, but that's what I'd like to see happen."
Overeem (36-11, 1 no contest), undefeated in his last 12 MMA fights, a streak that dates back five years, was Dos Santos' original opponent in May until failing a surprise drug test by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for elevated levels of testosterone. The test was after a press conference on March 27 in Las Vegas, about two months before the scheduled fight.
At the time Overeem had signed for the bout, but his Nevada license had expired. At his hearing, he was denied a license and banned from applying for a license for nine months, a period that was ruled to end on Dec. 27. The normal protocol if one is denied a license in Nevada is that they can't apply for a license for one year.
There was at one point hope that because Overeem's time frame where he could apply for a new license ended before Dec. 29, the date UFC has scheduled for Dos Santos' next title defense, that the much anticipated battle of knockout artists could take place on the show. But the logistics were impossible, because it would require an advertising campaign for a month or longer involving a fighter who was not licensed.
Still, there was a period of uncertainty, when Overeem stated that he may get his hearing early which would allow him to do the fight. But Keith Kizer, Executive Director of the commission, said that wouldn't be the case, and a few days later, White said that Velasquez would get the next shot.
UFC had made it clear in the past that they were interested in Dos Santos vs. Overeem right away, and had talked about Overeem getting a title shot without having to win one fight coming off suspension. So White's comments regarding Overeem getting the next shot were largely expected. Barring an injury to whoever comes out of Dos Santos vs. Velasquez as champion, the Overeem title shot would likely take place in the spring of 2013.
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