Photo: Esther Lin / MMAFighting.com
With roughly six weeks until UFC 146, Junior dos Santos, UFC heavyweight champion, doesn't know who he will be defending his title against. When Alistair Overeem's positive test for elevated testosterone the immediate assumption was that Overeem would be pulled from the bout and replaced with Frank Mir. Dana White's anger over the test result seemed to suggest Overeem was out, but we've not heard anything since about replacement opponents other than Dana eliminating Mir and Cain Velasquez as possibilities.
The situation has prevented the UFC from promoting UFC 146, it's prevented dos Santos from knowing exactly who he is training for and it has prevented fans from knowing exactly what they're expected to pay money to see.
The situation is something MMA Fighting's Mike Chiappetta tackled yesterday:
Admittedly, at this point, it is a problem of the UFC's choosing. They could pull Overeem out of the fight if they wanted to, after his first test showed a testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio of 14:1. They've done it with both lesser and similar transgressions. Late last year, they removed Nick Diaz from a title match for missing two press conferences. In February 2011, they removed Thiago Silva from a proposed bout with Quinton "Rampage" Jackson after Silva's sample from a January drug test was detected to contain non-human urine. At the time, there were still three months to go until the May fight date, but they didn't bother to wait around for his B-sample result or hearing. So there is precedent. It's just that the UFC has decided to play the waiting game and hope for the most beneficial result.
If that sounds like Overeem's getting the superstar treatment, it's because he is. Even if it's to the detriment of anyone else. At least Dos Santos has stood up for himself. On Wednesday, he told Brazilian news site Globo that he wants to know "as soon as possible" who his opponent is. That's only fair. After all, he is the champion. He has done nothing wrong, yet he is in as big a state of flux as anyone else. That hardly seems just.
Overeem still hasn't made a peep since his test results were made public, but there's a growing belief by some that he will present a case that centers around therapeutic usage of testosterone. The Nevada state athletic commission's TUE procedures require a fighter to apply for an exemption within 20 days of a fight. If Overeem presents a TRT defense, he could say he was not required to inform them of his use at the time of his March 27 test.
As Mike mentioned, the UFC is perfectly capable of making the decision to pull Overeem from the bout regardless of if he decides to fight back against the test with the stupid (more on that in a second) defense of TRT. The idea of Overeem fighting for the title is already tainted, despite all the whining that all we want to see is good fights so who cares? Overeem possibly winning the title would never be viewed as legitimate by much of the MMA watching population.
But it's clear the UFC is sticking it out to see if Overeem can get the test result overturned so they're able to play the "our hands are tied" card when they're anything but. They don't have to suspend him if the result of the fight is overturned, but they can absolutely remove him from the title shot as a promotion action, saying he needs to prove himself clean with one more non-title fight before being rewarded for a 14:1 testosterone ratio.
And get real if you buy the TRT defense as anything even slightly resembling legitimate. Overeem's out and out bragging that he doesn't take anything and is the "most tested athlete" in the sport never came with the caveat "but I do have abnormally low testosterone so I take injections for that."
And, if this is somehow a new development since the Lesnar fight, this should be the final straw in the argument to allow TRT in MMA. Am I supposed to believe that the beast of a human being who treated Brock Lesnar like a child at UFC 141 is someone suffering the ill effects of hypogonadism? The "eyeball test" may not work in telling you who is and isn't using PED's (Kirill Sidelnikov) but I think it's fair to say that anyone who laid eyes on this man at UFC 141 could tell that is not someone suffering from a medical condition that made him somehow less physically able to compete than other mixed martial artists:
So while Michael Schiavello ignores the existence of the agreed upon terms (two random tests after the fight) of Overeem's UFC 141 conditional license, and while the UFC talks tough about how hard their athletes are tested and how clean they want the sport...we all get to sit back and see if the promotion can get their way despite a failed drug test because Overeem is able to lawyer up and look for a loophole that will allow him to fight and try to become the most tainted UFC champion since Josh Barnett.
And let's not forget the current champion. As Junior dos Santos sits in the background making statements about how fighting Overeem would be unfair to him (but he'd still do it), and it seems no one really cares.