Junior dos Santos to fight Dec. 29
LOS ANGELES -- UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos will defend his title at an unannounced card on Dec. 29 in Las Vegas. His opponent, however, is yet to be determined.
UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta confirmed the promotion's plan to have dos Santos (15-1) compete on the year-end card to ESPN.com on Saturday.
"There is no contract but that's what we have penciled in my office," Fertitta told ESPN.com.
Fertitta added the reason a previously scheduled fight between dos Santos and former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez for UFC 152 on Sept. 22 was delayed was because of a "couple nicks, nothing serious," that dos Santos suffered in training.
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While Velasquez (10-1) had already been scheduled as the next No. 1 contender, it appears that is not necessarily the case anymore.
Only dos Santos has been confirmed for the December card and Fertitta is optimistic currently suspended Alistair Overeem might be available on that date.
Overeem (36-11-1) is currently serving a nine-month suspension under the Nevada State Athletic Commission for a failed drug test in March. He is eligible to reapply for a fighter's license in Nevada on Dec. 27, two days before the year-end card.
Fertitta told ESPN.com, however, it was his understanding the commission might rule on Overeem before that Dec. 27 date. He clearly said, though, it lies in the hands of the NSAC.
"The best case scenario is he's licensed in enough time to put him on the December card," Fertitta said. "We can't commit to that because we don't know what the commission will do.
"I believe it is possible he could (be available). The commission could allow him to come forward before that."
NSAC executive director Keith Kizer, when contacted by ESPN.com, said he had not heard the possibility of an early licensing hearing for Overeem and would oppose it.
"I don't think there is any truth to that and I would be against that," Kizer said. "That is not how our rules read."
If the decision were up to the champion, Overeem would be booked to the title fight immediately. That's according to UFC president Dana White, who added another element to the story during the UFC on Fox post-fight news conference, saying dos Santos was intent on an Overeem matchup.
"I sat down with Junior dos Santos yesterday," White said. "He said, 'I have nothing but respect for Cain Velasquez. I like him as a person and as a fighter and he deserves this shot, but I do not want to fight him.'
"He said, 'Alistair Overeem is a punk. He's got a big mouth and he's been saying lots of bad things about me. I want to knock him out now.' "
When asked how he felt about dos Santos preferring to fight Overeem, Velasquez's trainer Javier Mendez said in a text, "Dos Santos camp has been ducking Cain from start to try and get Overeem fight."
Velasquez's camp has expressed publicly its fighter is ready to go and wants the opportunity to fight dos Santos. The two have met previously, with dos Santos taking a first-round knockout victory in November 2011.
ESPN.com's Josh Gross contributed to this report.