Former top UFC heavyweight contender may still fight in 2012
The Alistair Overeem saga got a little bit of closure on Tuesday. In some ways, it wasn't the kind he and his legal team were hoping for. In others, he may have gotten some leniency.
Overeem, appearing before the Nevada State Athletic Commission in Las Vegas, was denied a request for a continuance in his hearing in the matter of a positive test for elevated testosterone levels. The commission instead moved straight to the consideration of Overeem's license application and elected to suspend the heavyweight fighter for nine months, retroactive to the date of his failed test, March 27.
That means Overeem's suspension will expire in late December. If UFC tradition holds, a year-end pay-per-view card is possible for Las Vegas on Dec. 29 – which Overeem would be eligible to apply for a license to fight on.
Overeem's legal team on Tuesday was asking for 45 to 60 days to gather additional expert witnesses before appearing again. The NSAC, though, deliberated and agreed that there was little benefit to deferring things, arguing that if a continuance is granted and Overeem still was denied his license later this year, it would be even longer before he could appear again to reapply.
The nine-month suspension was shorter than many analysts believed the former Strikeforce heavyweight champion and one-time top UFC contender would get. Most believed it would be at least a year before he would be able to apply for a license in Nevada again.
Overeem told the commission he had no intentions of fighting in other states or countries in the next nine months. He is, of course, under contract with the UFC, and the UFC strictly adheres to the NSAC's rulings regardless of the state or country it is putting on shows.
Overeem last month tested positive for elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone levels at a random drug test following a news conference promoting UFC 146. Overeem was scheduled to meet Junior dos Santos for the UFC heavyweight title on the card. The UFC stood pat while waiting for Tuesday's hearing, but on Friday waited no longer and UFC president Dana White announced that Frank Mir was taking Overeem's place in the title fight.
On Monday, Overeem's management team issued a statement for him that said doctor-prescribed anti-inflammatories were the reason for his 14:1 T/E ratio, well above the 6:1 NSAC maximum.
The Dutch fighter previously ran into some roadblocks with the NSAC in December during the license application process for his UFC 141 fight against Brock Lesnar, but ultimately was given a conditional license that required him, among other tests, to be tested twice randomly after the December fight. One of those tests was in March in Las Vegas. Overeem beat Lesnar with a first-round TKO at UFC 141 to earn his title shot against dos Santos. Lesnar announced his retirement after the fight.
Mir was scheduled to meet fellow former champion Cain Velasquez in the co-main event of UFC 146 to determine the No. 1 contender for the dos Santos-Overeem winner. Now Mir moves into a title shot, and Velasquez will fight Antonio Silva in the co-main event, White said Sunday.
The UFC has not yet issued any official statement on Overeem's suspension.