UFC 146 had been shaping up so nicely. It was a mammoth card, stacked full the organization's elite heavyweights, topped off by a title fight that had mixed martial arts (MMA) fans foaming at the mouth.
That was before Heavyweight (265 lbs.) number one contender, Alistair Overeem, went and failed a surprise drug test after a press conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, on March 27, 2012. Ostensibly, he had ruined his chances at getting a shot at current champion Junior dos Santos and his belt, and possibly even his career, in one fell
urine sample swoop.
Since the news was announced, the whole sorted affair has loomed over the event and the MMA community, as we all wait for a final verdict to be rendered. Unfortunately, no conclusion will be reached until Overeem sits down with the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) on Apr. 24 to make his defense for the reasonSBN coverage of UFC on FUEL TV 2 he failed the test, as well as why he should be allowed to remain on this fight card.
As luck would have it, there are several eligible heavyweights on this very same card who would absolutely love to stand in for "Ubereem" if he is unable to convince the NSAC that he is innocent of wrongdoing. One of those men, Frank Mir, is scheduled to fight Cain Velasquez that same night. He told Spike TV's "MMA Uncensored Live" that he's planning on fighting Velasquez, but all his bosses at Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) have to do is give him the word, and he'll sign on the dotted line to fight "JDS:"
"No, as of right now, I'm still training for Cain. Obviously, I'm like everybody else. I see that, in the background, there's a possibility Overeem's not going to be able to make the fight on the 26th, and if that's the case, I wanna make sure I'm in a position where I can jump in."
Mir was asked, point blank, if he believes Overeem is a cheater. He's giving him the benefit of the doubt, but he admits, it looks suspicious:
"I'm very much on the point of 'innocent, until proven guilty.' If he has a hearing and he comes in and speaks, I wanna hear what he has to say and what's going on. All six of us were tested on that day, that were on that stage, and he had some complications with his test, obviously. Give the man a chance to speak about it."
Switching opponents in mid-stream can be a tricky mountain to climb. Velasquez and dos Santos are very different fighters, stylistically speaking. Mir knows what he'd be up against, but as far as he's concerned, it's a welcome transition:
"Well, you know, it's a little bit of an adjustment, but I'd rather go in that direction than the other way. Just for the reason being the kind of conditioning it takes. Wrestling in the gym as much as I am with the kind of guys that are more wrestling oriented, collegiate wrestlers, that conditioning is just extremely anaerobic and extraordinarily tough to train for. Anybody who trains realizes that anybody can spar three, four, five, six rounds, if it's just striking with no takedowns. But maybe if you start taking people down and fighting on the ground and we wrestle to get back up, that's when it's extremely fatiguing. so, going from a grappler to have to prepare for a striker, I feel it's easier than the other way around."
There are other options available to fill in the gap. The most popular, as of late, may be Mark Hunt, who has been rallied behind by fans hoping to see "Super Samoan" get a title shot. Mir is aware he's not the only candidate, but he really believes he should be next in line. He also admitted he'd be fairly unhappy if he were to be passed over:
"I feel that I have the most credentials, going into it. I think I have the longest winning streak of the heavyweights that were already posted on that card to fight. As far as what the rankings are, I feel I have the most credentials going in, and I'm motivated to do so. It was funny, a couple of months ago, when I was training for this, I had been training for a five-round fight to begin with. Reason being that Cain Velasquez is a cardio freak, and if something were to happen with the title shot, I wouldn't want it to be something where I had to turn it down because I wasn't prepared for it. I mean, obviously I'd feel a little slighted (if someone else were picked to fight dos Santos). But, both those guys (Hunt and Velasquez) are great fighters. I would never be mad at them for taking advantage of the situation. Would I be angry? Of course. I wouldn't wanna be at my house on the night that's announced. I would not be a happy individual. I would probably just stay away from my house for a couple of days."
So, in the meantime, all Frank Mir can do is keep training hard and waiting like the rest of us, until Apr. 24 when the NSAC reveals to the world the fate of Overeem.
Do you Maniacs think Mir would have a right to be upset if Overeem is forced off the card and the UFC replaces him with someone else?