We all remember the moment we first found out. The sinking feeling in our stomachs. The lumps forming in our throats. Fingers clenching into fists of rage - then extending once more, into digits of righteous keyboard manipulating fury (that sounds oddly like a "King Crimson" song title).
Alistair Overeem had failed a random drug test. Alistair Overeem wasn't fighting for the UFC Heavyweight title. The epic, awesome collision of high-speed freight trains that was Junior Dos Santos vs. Alistair Overeem...wasn't going to happen.
This was pretty much most fan's reaction. Maybe not word for...same word, but in spirit. Admit it - we were all insecure, middle-aged space captains marooned on a barren rock by a centuries-old genetically engineered super villain the day we found out Overeem vs. JDS wasn't happening, weren’t we?
But seeing as how this is the internet, we got over it in about 5 minutes and moved on to the next question: who the heck was going to fight for the heavyweight championship now that The Reem horsemeat'd himself out of contention?
The obvious answer was Frank Mir, who was already scheduled to fight at UFC 146 against Cain Velasquez. This would seem to make the most sense, because Mir is coming off some big wins, including the arm break of Big Nog that raised goosebumps (and turned stomachs) the world over. Plus, he’s a known quantity to fans, and just the sort of guy who can sell a fight.
Yet there hasn’t exactly been a groundswell of fan support for another Frank Mir title shot. In fact, folks are reacting to a (possible) Mir/JDS fight the way the fans reacted when Brittney Palmer was “fired”: most don’t care, and a select few are very disgruntled.
Why not Mir? After all, he’s 7-2 in his last 9 fights, and is one of the few heavyweights outside the champ on any kind of meaningful winning streak right now. It might be because his two biggest fights – vs. Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin – were crushing losses, which might have cemented in some fans mind that Mir isn’t “championship materiel”. I saw this complaint levied by more than a few fans when Mir’s name was first bounced around.
It might also have to do with the fact that the last Frank Mir PPV main event (vs. Mirko Cro Cop) caused people to throw bricks through their television sets – assuming they weren’t put to sleep first.
And Cain Velasquez just fought JDS, meaning at best he needs a fight or two to make it back to the title. At worst, he has no business rematching Dos Santos after so crushing a loss.
No joke, I’ve seen more than a few fans take this position. I guess less than one round of action is all we ever need to see between two fighters if it ends dramatically. Good thing we never gave that GSP chap a rematch after Matt Serra KO’ed him in under a round – what would it have proven, anyways?
So we fall back on the outliers, ranging from the wildly improbable (Mark Hunt) to the even more improbable (Fabricio Werdum) to the so impossible I can’t believe it ever gained serious traction (Fedor Emelianenko).
Now don’t get me wrong, I can see the reason why the “Campaign for Mark Hunt” has taken off with hardcore fans like it has. To many fans, Mir vs. JDS (the sensible alternative) already seems like a foregone conclusion, so why not book Hunt vs. JDS? As foregone conclusions go, it should at least be fun while it lasts.
The problem is Hunt’s less-than-stellar MMA record, sitting just above .500. But that’s not a real problem, nor is it the whole story (Randy Couture’s winning percentage was never spectacular). The real problem: I’m pretty sure casual fans have no idea who Mark Hunt is.
Can you just see the fight announcements now? “On May 26, the most feared man in the heavyweight division, coming off an explosive victory on network TV…fights a guy you might have seen on the undercard of those oddly-timed Australian events which, if buy rates are to be believed, you probably skipped. ONLY ON PPV!”
Jokes aside, Dana White and Joe Silva have some great options to pick from, and let’s be honest: when it comes to world title fights, the UFC is pretty damn good at convincing us to shell out $49.99 no matter who’s on the docket.
Which is why I’m surprised – downright dumbfounded, really – that Dana White hasn’t announced a replacement for Alistair Overeem.
As of now, The Reem is set to apply for a license to fight at a hearing before the NSAC on April 26. At this hearing, he will have to address the issue of the failed test, and provide a solid reason why he has the testosterone of 14 men in his blood.
There are two things that strike me as odd about this. One, why would Alistair go through the licensing process with the failed test hanging around his neck? If he can’t explain why he tested so high, he’ll be barred from applying for a liscense for a year or more. Other states will uphold this disbarment, meaning it could derail his UFC career for the next year.
And two, why would Dana White and the UFC hold off on announcing a replacement? Even if they are waiting until the hearing before they announce it, it seems an awfully risky move to me. Even if you have a guy secretly training and preparing to “jump in” should Overeem fail, it leaves you only a month to promote the new fight, and will give it a rushed, “last-minute” feel even if it isn’t rushed or last-minute.
So as far as I can see, there’s only one explanation: Overeem has an airtight explanation for his failed test - one that he, his people, and the UFC are willing to stand behind, and one they feel sure will convince the commission to grant him a liscense despite the failed test and all the drama they’ve endured from Overeem since he came to the UFC.
My question to you all is: what could that explanation possibly be?
By Elton Hobson