By now, everyone in the MMA world knows that Alistair Overeem tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone at last week’s surprise drug test following the UFC 146 kickoff press conference in Las Vegas.
After initially blowing his top when he found out about it, UFC president Dana White hasn’t had much to say yet about what is going to happen to the planned UFC 146 heavyweight title fight between champion Junior dos Santos and Overeem.
Most fans and pundits assumed that Plan B would be to slot Frank Mir in again dos Santos if Overeem is unable to pull off the miracle upset against the Nevada State Athletic Commission and clear his name. No one in mixed martial arts has overcome a positive drug test result in Nevada in the past, so it is unlikely that Overeem would become the first.
Mir, on the surface at least, appears the most logical candidate. He’s already been training to fight Cain Velasquez on the same card, so the timing is right. He is a former UFC heavyweight champion and interim champion. And although he failed to capture another interim belt when he faced Shane Carwin two years ago, Mir has since won three consecutive bouts, knocking out Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, decisioning Ultimate Fighter winner Roy Nelson, and technically submitting Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira by breaking his arm.
Mir’s scheduled opponent, Cain Velasquez, could be another option. But having lost the belt to dos Santos in his last fight, losing by a quick first-round knockout, a rematch wouldn’t seem to be appropriate just yet.
White on Saturday took to Twitter apparently dousing any speculation about either Mir or Velasquez, however.
In response to a fan stating that he really wanted the Mir vs. Velasquez fight to remain intact, White tweeted, “Mir vs Cain will happen,” which leads everyone to wonder what the promotion’s next move will be should Overeem, as expected, be forced out of the fight with dos Santos.
The entire UFC 146 five-bout main card on pay-per-view is slated with heavyweights, so there are a number of other bouts to pull a participant from, although most don’t make a lot of sense to challenge for the title.
Roy Nelson and Antonio Silva are both coming off of losses, while Shane Del Rosario, Gabriel Gonzaga, and Stefan Struve haven’t really put together title-worthy runs yet either.
Mark Hunt has won three consecutive fights – besting Cheick Kongo, Ben Rothwell, and Chris Tuchscherer – but those names, especially on the heels of correcting a six-fight losing streak, don’t typically equate to championship challenger. Hunt has, however, found a growing legion of supporters on the Internet calling for him to be the man to step into the title fight.
For those wondering, Fedor Emelianenko is not an option. White has emphatically refuted any talk of wanting to sign the former heavyweight kingpin to any fight, let alone a title fight. Besides, M-1 Global recently announced Fedor will next fight in Russia on June 21.
There is the slight possibility, although unlikely, that White could pull Josh Barnett or Daniel Cormier from the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix final to face dos Santos, but considering Zuffa’s turbulent dealings with Showtime over the Strikeforce brand, this isn’t much of a legitimate option either.
Showtime wants the heavyweight tournament to come to a conclusion, plus they want the winner to fight at least once more on the network prior to completely dissolving the Strikeforce heavyweight division.
The UFC, of course, could put JDS on ice if Overeem is out. They could slot Frank Mir vs. Cain Velasquez in as the UFC 146 main event and let those two continue with the No. 1 contender’s bout that they’re already slated for. The winner then would face dos Santos somewhere down the road, maybe even as soon as UFC 152 in Toronto in September if healthy.
Of course, UFC matchmaker Joe Silva has climbed out of deep holes before, but Overeem has put him in a seemingly bottomless pit this time. Can he tap the magic once again?
What other options could there be?