With the results of former Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem’s surprise drug test, Ultimate Fighting Championship matchmakers are now searching for a replacement to face current heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos at UFC 146.
Overeem isn’t officially off the UFC 146 fight card, but the chances of him getting licensed are pretty slim. He’ll have to face the Nevada State Athletic Commission on April 24 to determine his fate.
When news broke out that Overeem tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone, former champion Frank Mir seemed like the next logical choice. However, Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White confirmed that Mir will still face Cain Velasquez at UFC 146, leaving the spot against dos Santos wide open.
Some MMA fans are lobbying for Mark Hunt to get the spot, but I personally don’t think he’s the most deserving fighter out there. For one, Hunt has only won three of his last nine MMA fights, and his most important win during that span was against a gatekeeper in Cheick Kongo.
With Mir out of the picture, Fabricio Werdum is the most qualified opponent left on the UFC’s heavyweight roster. Werdum has won four of his last five MMA fights, losing only to Overeem. He did get knocked out by dos Santos during their previous encounter at UFC 90, but his striking has come a long way since then – as he demonstrated on Roy Nelson’s face at UFC 143. Werdum is currently scheduled to face Mike Russow at UFC 147, and that might make the promotion’s matchmakers a little hesitant to use him.
Fedor Emelianenko would have made a solid replacement for Overeem (mainly because his name would draw in many MMA fans). But the Russian has already been booked, currently scheduled to fight in his native country on June 21.
Dan Henderson is another potential opponent, considering the fact he’s already in line for a light- heavyweight title shot. Henderson has already indicated he would accept the fight if offered.
Given the many different possibilities for UFC matchmakers, it will be interesting to see which route they decide to take.