With coverage for UFC 145: "Jones vs. Evans" in full swing for the event set to go down tonight (Sat., April 21, 2012) live on pay-per-view, a major announcement got lost in the shuffle of news updates last night.
UFC President Dana White announced, seemingly out of the blue, that Alistair Overeem has been officially pulled from the UFC 146 main event, where he was scheduled to challenge Junior dos Santos for the heavyweight championship.
Replacing "The Reem" will be Frank Mir, who was previously set to throw down against Cain Velasquez in the night's co-main event. As far as Velasquez is concerned, he will remain on the card and a new opponent will be found. Rumors are flying that the rest of the card will be shuffled to accommodate these latest changes but none are worth reporting on at this time.
This all comes as a bit of a surprise considering Overeem still has yet to state his case in front of the Nevada Athletic Commission (NSAC) for the drug test he failed at a press conference not long ago. That hearing won't occur until April 24, just a few days from now.
No matter the outcome, though, the UFC was placed in an impossible position. Maybe the NSAC would have licensed Overeem and the event could have gone on as planned. But the Dutchman is already guilty in the court of public opinion. Had he fought and actually won the title?
Just imagine the ensuing reaction.
Instead, White figured out to way to get out of the contract and made the safe call by inserting Mir into the main event, a spot he's all too familiar with. On Twitter last night, Dos Santos reacted to the news:
"Dana White just said I get a new opponent to fight on May 26th for the HW title," he tweeted. "JDS vs Mir. Let's do it." He would later add, "Thanks for your support everybody. I appreciate it and I will work hard to honor the trust you guys place in me."
Conspicuous by his absence is Overeem, who has yet to release a statement on the situation. He's also managed to stay off social media sites and away from reporters.
During a period in which his very future in the sport of MMA could be decided, "The Reem" has gone dark.
It makes sense, though. His hearing is still days away and if he comes up short in his defense, he won't even be able to apply for another fight license for an entire calendar year. That's without mentioning how he'll be received by fans from here on out.
How much longer will Overeem remain gainfully employed by the UFC, even?
There are still a lot of questions left to be answered. What we know for certain is Dos Santos will defend his title against Mir on May 26 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Overeem will go in front of the NSAC on April 24 to try to save his job, not to mention save face.
For more on Mir replacing Overeem click here.