MMA Mania reports that James Irvin — who was handed a nine-month suspension for testing positive for Methadone and Oxymorphone following his TKO loss to Anderson Silva last July — will be making his Octagon return at UFC 98 (May 23rd, Las Vegas). It will be his first fight at middleweight, as Irvin will be shedding 20 pounds from his jacked frame to face Miletich fighter Drew McFedries, who’s coming off consecutive losses to Mike Massenzio and Thales Leites.
Since neither fighter has a winning record in the UFC — Irvin is 4-4 and McFedries is 3-4 —the loser could find himself without a contract after this one. What’s more, Irvin’s health could be a question; besides the sizable weight cut, Irvin was recovering from a broken foot during the Anderson Silva fight (which is why he was taking those potent painkillers in the first place), and was the victim of a bizarre knee injury during his fight against Thiago Silva in May 2007. UFC 98 will be headlined by the long-awaited grudge match between Matt Hughes and Matt Serra.
In other UFC fight-booking news…
— Tyson Griffin will be looking to rebound from his October loss to Sean Sherk when he takes on Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC Fight Night 18 (April 1st, Nashville). Griffin has been successful five times in seven UFC appearances, though his last six bouts have gone to decision. Dos Anjos is the Brazilian Fury FC/Pancrase vet who was on the receiving end of the fifth greatest knockout of 2008 during his unfortunate UFC debut in November.
— Marcus Davis believes that Thiago Alves‘s next opponent will be Mike Swick, though there’s been no official confirmation yet from the UFC. Davis has lost unanimous decisions to both fighters during his career, and wants revenge.