UFC Releases Longtime Heavyweight Standouts Alistair Overeem, Junior dos Santos

By: Tristen Critchfield
Mar 4, 2021

Editor's Note: The article has been updated at 1:30 p.m. ET on March 4 to add a statement of release from Overeem.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship is parting ways with longtime heavyweight standouts Alistair Overeem and Junior dos Santos.

MMAjunkie.com was first to report Overeem’s release, while dos Santos initially brought word of his departure via social media. Multiple outlets have since confirmed the cuts, while Overeem has since posted a statement regarding his release on Thursday. According to a report from ESPN, Overeem had two bouts remaining on his UFC contract, while dos Santos had five.

Overeem recently competed at UFC Fight Night 184 on Feb. 6, when he had a two-bout winning streak snapped in a second-round technical knockout loss against Alexander Volkov. A former Strikeforce, K-1 and Dream champion, Overeem made his Octagon debut with a first-round stoppage of Brock Lesnar at UFC 141 and proceeded to compile a 12-8 mark within the Las Vegas-based promotion. “The Demolition Man” challenged for heavyweight gold at UFC 203, where he suffered a first-round knockout loss to Stipe Miocic in September 2016.

The 40-year-old Dutchman owns a 47-19 career mark with one no contest and has earned notable wins over the likes of Fabricio Werdum (twice), Mark Hunt (twice), dos Santos, Andrei Arlovski, Roy Nelson, Frank Mir, Lesnar, Vitor Belfort (twice) and Sergei Kharitonov. MMAFighting.com is reporting that Bellator is not interested in signing Overeem at this time, despite the fighter’s past relationship with president Scott Coker in Strikeforce.

"The final run has come to an end," Overeem wrote on his Instagram, "but what a run it has been. Looking back at my 10 years in the UFC, this has been the experience of a lifetime. Huge thank you to the entire UFC staff, the fans and all the fighters I came across. Couldn't have wished for any other better career path. A special thank you to [UFC President] Dana White and [Former UFC CEO] Lorenzo Fertitta for making everything possible. Fighting for all of you has been such an honor."

Dos Santos, meanwhile, exits the promotion on the heels of a four-fight losing streak. All four of those defeats — against Ciryl Gane, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Curtis Blaydes and Francis Ngannou — have come by knockout or technical knockout. Per the ESPN report, the Brazilian was offered a short-notice bout against Marcin Tybura at UFC 260 on March 29, and after he declined due to a lack of time to prepare, he was released from his contract.

“Thanks [UFC] for a great 12 years!” dos Santos wrote on Instagram. “I fought through MMA’s Murderer’s Row to get my shot at the belt. Holding and defending it was one of the great honors of my life. Thanks to every opponent, thanks to every fan and every critic. I’m going to spend some time back at the drawing board, but I’m excited to move on.”

“Cigano” kicked off his promotional tenure with nine consecutive triumphs. He notably helped usher in the Fox era when he knocked out Cain Velasquez in 64 seconds to claim the heavyweight crown at UFC on Fox 1 in November 2011. He would defend the belt once more before against Frank Mir before relinquishing it in a rematch with Velasquez at UFC 155. The Brazilian challenged for the belt twice more, falling to Velasquez again at UFC 166 and to Miocic at UFC 211.

Currently 37 years old, dos Santos owns a 21-9 career mark and has bested the likes of Derrick Lewis, Ben Rothwell, Miocic, Hunt, Shane Carwin, Nelson, Gabriel Gonzaga, Mirko Filipovic and Werdum over the course of his professional tenure.

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A post shared by Junior Cigano Dos Santos (@juniorcigano)

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