Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
The official verdict for sanctioning the scheduled Feb. 2 Alistair Overeem (36-11, 1 no contest) vs. Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva (17-4) fight at UFC 156 will come down on Jan. 8 at a hearing before the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer confirmed that Overeem sent in an application Thursday morning for a new license. It was the first day he was allowed to do so after being turned down at a hearing on March 27 for a license because he failed a test for elevated levels of testosterone.
At the March hearing, Overeem claimed that he didn't know that a solution he was given for treatment of a rib injury contained testosterone. The commission's usual protocol is if a license is turned down then the fighter is not allowed to apply again for one year. Even though Overeem had only been given a conditional license for his previous fight, on Dec. 30, 2011 when he beat Brock Lesnar in the first round, it was contingent on passing several unannounced tests in the upcoming months. The decision was made at the previous hearing to cut his waiting period to nine months. The leniency in punishment drew significant criticism at the time.
The commission had already given approval to UFC to advertise the fight. The heavyweight battle will be the No. 2 fight underneath a Frankie Edgar vs. Jose Aldo Jr., featherweight title match for the show at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The advertising was to note the fight would take place pending commission approval.
Overeem will have to appear at the hearing and answer questions from the commission, similar to his prior hearing.
Overeem had been considered the No. 1 contender for the heavyweight title coming off his win over Lesnar. He was scheduled for a title shot at champion Junior Dos Santos on May 26 in Las Vegas when he tested positive at a surprise test given immediately after a press conference for the fight. He was denied the license due to the positive test. At the time, he was not a licensed fighter in Nevada as his conditional license term had expired.
Since his suspension, Overeem has submitted several clean test results to both the UFC and Nevada State Athletic Commission.
If he is licensed, and beats Silva without suffering a serious injury, Overeem is expected to face the winner of the upcoming Junior Dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez fight in the first heavyweight title match of 2013.
Three other fighters on UFC 156 will also be subject to commission approval - Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Demian Maia and Jay Hieron. All have had to submit to more extensive physicals, which include an EKG, chest X-ray, blood work and a urinalysis because of being born 1977 or earlier. Nevada requires all fighters who will turn 36 during a calender year to undergo more rigorous medicals and get approved at a commission hearing. None of the fighters are required to be at the hearing in person.
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