Heavyweights Alistair Overeem and Stefan Struve will collide to close out 2014, as the pair are set to meet at UFC on FOX 13, officials confirmed late Wednesday night.
The card takes place December 13 from Phoenix and the U.S. Airways Center. It marks the first trip by the promotion to Phoenix. The only other bout announced to date is Jamie Varner vs. Drew Dober.
Overeem (37-14) has lost three of his last four inside the Octagon, including a recent knockout loss to Ben Rothwell. The former Strikeforce champion fell to 11th in the latest UFC rankings following the defeat.
“The Reem” defeated former UFC champion Frank Mir earlier this year after losses to both Travis Browne and Antonio Silva – both of which came via finish.
Struve (25-6) was set to make his return after a year away due to heart complications against Matt Mitrione this past July. However, just moments before the main card was set to start, Struve nearly fainted and officials scrapped the bout. “The Skyscraper” has posted a 9-4 overall UFC mark and is No. 14 overall.
Below is the current fight card for the night:
Heavyweight: Stefan Struve vs. Alistair Overeem
Lightweight: Jamie Varner vs. Drew Dober
Francis Carmont could not survive a three-fight losing streak, confirming on Facebook that he has been released from the UFC.
Carmont (22-10) won his first six fights with the promotion as part of an 11-fight win streak overall. The 32-year-old topped Costas Philippou, Lorenz Larkin, Chris Camozzi, Tom Lawlor, Karlos Vemola and Magnus Cedenblad from 2011-13.
This year, though, has not been kind to the Tristar Gym fighter, as he dropped decisions to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and C.B. Dollaway before a second round knockout loss to former contender Thales Leites in August.
Here’s Carmont’s statement he released:
I announce that after 6 win and 3 defeat, I am no longer a UFC fighter. However it is with determination that I will continue my career in combat sports. A friend told me, after my loss against Thales, ” You will come to understand it is the best thing that could’ve happen for your career, it’ll make you stronger.” At that moment i did not quiet understand, and after reflecting i came to auto-criticize myself. I come to the conclusion that in sports just like in life, there are many and different stages. By looking for perfection on my technique, i slowly estrange myself from the combat by instinct. Seeking to score points instead of finishing my opponent. My last loss pushes me to grow everyday. Life is a learning path and my career is far from finish. Thank you very much for your constant support.
UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks remains sidelined, and could stay that way until the early portion of 2015.
Most believed Hendricks would be making his first title defense in January against Robbie Lawler, but his wrestling coach, Kenny Monday, recently told ESPN.com that isn’t likely to happen.
“I know everyone would have loved January, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to work out. I’m thinking he fights in February or March.”
Hendricks (16-2) won the title this past March when he bested Lawler in a bout to determine the new champion after Georges St-Pierre surrendered the title. Hendricks lost via decision to St-Pierre in 2013.
Lawler, meanwhile, improved to 24-10 by rebounding from the loss to “Bigg Rigg” and defeating both Jake Ellenberger and Matt Brown.
“The last thing the UFC wanted was to start promoting a fight and have to postpone it if Johny had a setback,” Hendricks’ manager, Ted Ehrhard, said. “He’s well past the point now but the schedule is full. He’s a main event fighter and all the main events are taken.
“It looks like he’ll fight some time in February.”
“UFC Tonight” brought in a pair of guest hosts familiar with the heavyweight division to discuss tonight’s UFC Fight Night 51 main event between Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Andrei Arlovski earlier this week.
Silva and Arlovski will meet from Brazil on UFC Fight Pass in a rematch of a 2010 meeting won by Silva while both were in Strikeforce.
Brendan Schaub, who recently lost to Arlovski, is set to return to action later this year against Travis Browne. He had some keen points about the fighting style of “The Pitbull.”
“I’m hoping Arlovski doesn’t bring the same attitude as he did against me. He seemed scared and tentative against me,” Schaub said. “Bigfoot is a monster. Andrei was flat footed. Bigfoot’s going to come out, take him down, and TKO him.”
As for his own fight, Schaub said “It’s a big one. It doesn’t get much bigger than this. You win this and you’re right in the contender spot.”
Daniel Cormier, a former heavyweight now set to contend for the UFC’s light heavyweight title, wonders if we will ever see the same Arlovski that one ruled by carrying the championship.
“He has to be the guy we remember from back in the day. He can’t do what he did in the last fight against Bigfoot. Bigfoot out-boxed him. I know he’s a better boxer than Bigfoot. Andrei has to change something,” Cormier said. “He hasn’t showed me he’s improved since being gone from the UFC. Bigfoot has all the skills to go in there and smash him.”
UFC president Dana White was in rare form during a recent appearance on “UFC Tonight,” offering up his thoughts on a number of subjects.
One of those matters discussed revolved around Alistair Overeem. The former Strikeforce heavyweight champion was recently knocked out by Ben Rothwell, suffering his third loss in his last four Octagon appearances.
Despite the rough patch, White plans to keep “The Reem” around for the time being.
“He is still one of the Top-10 heavyweights in the world,” he said. “We’ll give him another fight.”
Overeem recently stated that he plans to continue fighting despite the loss.
Is Woodley in trouble for declining fight?
Tyron Woodley declined a fight with Hector Lombard that could have produced a welterweight contender. And while White is never happy with fighters saying no to bouts, he is giving the former college wrestling standout a “pass right now.”
“Woodley doesn’t want that fight,” White said. “Tyron just stepped up on short notice and fought in China. I’ll give him a pass right now.”
White compares Ben Askren to Tito Ortiz
Former Bellator champion and current ONE FC welterweight champion Ben Askren has received quite a bit of attention from White despite never competing for him.
Askren, an ex-Olympic wrestler, doesn’t shy away from saying how he truly feels, and White has taken notice.
“I thought Tito (Ortiz) was the dumbest human being alive,” White said. “This guy is an absolute moron. He’s copying everything that Tito does. You get a lot of attention if you talk about the UFC.
“If he’s happy fighting in Asia, then what’s he talking about me for?”
Askren appeared on AXS TV’s “Inside MMA” last week and was cut off after going on a tangent about the UFC.
Why was Thiago Silva granted another shot in the UFC?
Earlier this year, the promotion cut Thiago Silva following an incident in Florida. After all charges were dropped, White elected to sign him to another contract.
In explaining why they did what they did, White took a shot at the NFL over the recent Ray Rice matter. Rice was cut from the Baltimore Ravens and banned by the league for striking his then-fiance and now wife.
“When I said he’d never work in the UFC again, the SWAT team was surrounding his house, and he looked like he was in trouble. The guy hasn’t been charged with anything,” he said. “There are two sides to this story. Since it happened, he’s said it’s not true. His manager and he have told us what’s happened. But if you believe in the legal process in the United States, he was put through it and was charged with nothing in the end.
“There’s no proof or evidence that he did anything wrong. If there was a tape that popped up like Ray Rice, that would be a different story.”