It’s kind of crazy to think about it, but UFC fighter James Irvin hasn’t been in the Octagon since his 61-second knockout loss to Anderson Silva, way back in July 2008. Since then, the Sandman has served a nine-month suspension for unauthorized painkiller use and pulled out of two different fights due to knee injuries. (This is the same guy who blew out his knee during a match against Thiago Silva in May 2007, broke his foot while training for a UFC 85 bout against Rashad Evans, and once fell out of the cage during a fight against Bobby Southworth.) And yet the UFC has stuck by Irvin, continuing to offer him fights that he very likely won’t show up for. Everybody cross your fingers, because Irvin will reportedly make his long-delayed middleweight debut at "UFC on Versus" (March 21st; Broomfield, Colorado).
If he can avoid injuries or other major misfortunes for the next two months, Irvin’s opponent will be Alessio Sakara, who most recently won a split-decision over Thales Leites at UFC 101, effectively beating him out of the UFC. Sakara was scheduled to face Rousimar Palhares at the TUF 10 finale, but was forced to withdraw due to injury. This has to be Irvin’s last chance to save his job — will he return to his old superman-punching, flying-knee’ing form, or will he get hit by a bus on the way to weigh-ins?