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UFC releases former champion Junior dos Santos, Alistair Overeem


Months after Dana White said the organization would likely be cutting more fighters, the UFC has released both former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos and former title challenger Alistair Overeem.

ESPN's Ariel Helwani reported that dos Santos had five fights left on his contract while Overeem had two. Helwani reported that UFC offered dos Santos a short notice fight at this month's UFC 260 against Marcin Tybura which he declined, leading to his release.

Given the high-profile UFC 259 this weekend, it's likely White will discuss the releases during his media obligations.

The 37-year-old (21-9) has lost four straight dating back to June 2019, all by knockout or TKO. He had been with the company since October 2008 and is best remembered for his 2011-13 trilogy with Cain Velasquez that saw him both win and lose the title with the first fight kicking off their network deal with Fox.

In an Instagram post announcing his release, he indicated he wants to keep fighting.

He faced virtually every big name at heavyweight during a thirteen year run that included Stipe Miocic, Frank Mir, Fabricio Werdum, Mark Hunt, Derrick Lewis, Francis Ngannou and Overeem himself.

The 40-year-old Overeem (47-19-0-1) won titles in every promotion he has competed in except for the UFC. He is coming off a second round knockout loss to Alexander Volkov last month which snapped a two-fight winning streak. He has won four of his last six.

He signed with the UFC in 2011 and debuted against Brock Lesnar in a dream fight, defeating the physically weakened former champion in the first round. Like dos Santos, Overeem fought a litany of big names through his ten years in the UFC including dos Santos himself, Mir, Miocic, Hunt, Werdum, Ngannou and Andrei Arlovski. He fought for the title just once, losing to Miocic by first round knockout at UFC 203 in September 2016 -- the same show CM Punk debuted on.

If he wants to keep fighting, Overeem does have an extensive history with Bellator MMA president Scott Coker from their Strikeforce days while Japan's RIZIN could be an option given his past fighting for both PRIDE and Dream. Coker has been open to cross-promotion in the past, especially with RIZIN.