UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta says that Junior Dos Santos is fighting at the traditional New Year's Eve card, on 29 December. The opponent however has yet to be named.
The obvious TBD is Alistair Overeem, who has been vocal about his desire for the title fight.
In a interview last month, Junior Dos Santos expressed interest in the fight when Ariel Helwani said to him "Alistair Overeem told me that your afraid of him? … Are you afraid of Alistair Overeem?"
"Oh man, this guy, man, the school of Chael Sonnen has more students," said a smiling JDS. "He's gonna start to talk a lot of s---, you know, because, he saw the UFC gave the chance for Chael to fight Anderson again. But, man, I'm not afraid of him. I'm not afraid of anybody here. If he thinks he is better than me, come to fight with me. Soon he'll feel the power of my hands and he's gonna change his mind."
Overeem however is not allowed to apply for a license with the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC)until 27 December, following a positive test for PEDs prior to UFC 146.
Although Overeem could in theory be licensed on the 27th and fight on the 29th, the fight would be the main event of one of the biggest shows of the year, and if the NSAC for whatever reason denied or delayed the licensing, the months of promotion would have been in vain. Further, there is something unseemly about promoting a fighter functionally under suspension.
Last night on MMA Uncensored, Overeem said he will be appearing before the NSAC this month to try to resolve the licensing issue.
"A very important factor is my license. I'm not licensed yet to fight, so of course the UFC cannot promote anything. I gotta get my license first."
"I'm able to reapply for my license in December a couple days before the fight. But we have a strategy. We're going to go in front of the commission sooner with the argument of good behavior. We have been doing random tests on our own. They were all witnessed by an independent doctor. In the hope of getting a license sooner. I think we will get it sooner. Maybe a conditional license that I have to appear and do some random tests.
"We have a set date this month. Nothing confirmed, we're gonna try and get it. Hopefully we will."
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However, NSAC executive director Keith Kizer told MMAFighting that no such meeting will take place, and further, that an early application is not feasible under existing statutes.
While NSAC will hold its regular monthly meeting on August 24, Overeem is not among the scheduled topics of discussion. In fact, Kizer said, he hasn't even heard from anyone in Overeem's camp about putting him on the docket.
"That must be wishful thinking," he said. "He will not be on the agenda."
Furthermore, Kizer said under existing state statutes, Overeem would not be able to apply for a license until December 27, making his eligibility for a fight two days later a near-impossibility. In effect, Kizer said, there is no legal way to grant him an early hearing.
"I see no way to do that. I know of none," he said. "But even if the commission had some discretion to grant some waiver of time, I personally don't see this as the case. I'd be against that. There is some discretion at the commission level, but I don't think this is the case to use that discretion. This is not just a guy who engaged in cheating, but a guy who ran out the front door when the testing was being done."
"I can't speak for the commissioners, but I give him a little credit for it," said Kizer about Overeem's self-initiated drug tests. "I appreciate the effort. I'm not sure how relevant it is though. I guess any negative test has some merit. It definitely beats any positive result."
In the meantime, Kizer said the commission can still request a random sample of Overeem, with the results affecting his future standing in Nevada.
"If he fails or if he refuses to test, that would be a factor [in the licensing process]," he said. "Or if he passed, that would be a factor, too. There's always the ability to ask."
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Thus, in all likelihood, it will be Junior Dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez on Dec 28.