It’s not standard operating procedure that the Ultimate Fighting Championship starts putting together a fight and promoting it before a fighter under suspension returns and regains his license to compete.
That’s exactly what is happening, however, with former Strikeforce, Dream and K-1 champion Alistair Overeem.
Overeem must still go before the Nevada Athletic Commission at it’s monthly meeting in January to get approved for his license. That will be early to mid-month, which is pushing it pretty close for a fight that is slated for just a couple weeks later.
UFC president Dana White on Saturday night acknowledged the special circumstance, confirming to reporters following UFC 154, that they asked for and received permission from the Nevada commission to go ahead and start promotion Overeem for UFC 156.
“We asked the commission, can we start setting up a fight for him, but he's still got to go before the commission (in January),” explained White.
That’s not to say that things couldn’t go awry. It’s highly unlikely that the Nevada commission would approve of promoting an Overeem bout if he wasn’t likely to regain his license in the state, but it’s not guaranteed that he will automatically be granted a license either.
“I think Alistair has been doing the right thing as far as the commission is concerned and doing all the things that he needs to do to get back in their good graces,” said White. “It's looking positive and optimistic because he's been doing what he's supposed to do.”
One other fighter that could be eligible to come back from suspension soon, as well, is Nick Diaz. He is currently serving a 12-month suspension for a second marijuana offense in Nevada.
There had been some chatter on Twitter recently that Diaz and Josh Koscheck agreeable to fighting each other on the UFC 156 fight card. The problem being, Diaz’s suspension runs through Feb. 4 before he is eligible to reapply for his license in Nevada.
So would the UFC be granted any sort of exception for Diaz to return?
“Nope,” White put it bluntly, although he didn't exactly say that they had even asked permission to promote Diaz, nor did he indicate they were working on a fight for him.
Diaz, of course, has had a much more contentious relationship with, well, just about everyone, but particularly with the Nevada Athletic Commission. His licensure may not be as cut and dry as Overeem’s is likely to be, plus, UFC 156 falls on Feb. 2, two full days before the duration of Diaz’s suspension, making it a much different scenario.
While Diaz appears to be mired on the sidelines, however, expect to see Alistair Overeem back in the Octagon at UFC 156 on Super Bowl weekend.
Stay tuned to MMAWeekly.com for all the latest UFC news and updates.