James Irvin To Face Alessio Sakara At UFC On Versus 1Heavy-hitting former light heavyweight James “The Sandman” Irvin will make his middleweight debut against fellow striking standout Alessio “Legionarius” Sakara at the newly-renamed “UFC On Versus 1: Vera vs Jones” on March 21st. MMAWeekly.com first reported on the bout for the event previously known as UFC Fight Night 21.

Irvin has been sidelined for 18 months due to knee injuries that kept him off of UFC 99 and UFC 102. Sakara most recently decisioned former title challenger Thales Leites at UFC 101 in August.

Irvin (14-5-0, 1 NC) is a veteran of many notable promotions and holds 10 victories by knockout. After an initial stint in the WEC and UFC from 2004 to early 2006, Irvin returned to the Octagon at UFC 65 and stopped Hector “Sick Dog” Ramirez. After a disappointing loss due to a knee injury in a fight with Thiago Silva, Irvin’s next fight was no less of a letdown when he was awarded a controversial disqualification victory over Luiz “Banha” Cane due to an illegal knee.

Three months later, Irvin finally put himself back on the UFC map with an eight-second Superman Punch KO of the once-highly-touted Houston “The Assassin” Alexander. Irvin would not be so fortunate in his next appearance, however, as he was destroyed by UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson “The Spider” Silva just 61 seconds into their light heavyweight contest. Irvin tested positive for painkillers after the fight. Following the lengthy layoff, he will need an impressive victory to return to the title hunt.

Sakara (14-7-0, 1 NC) has experienced even more ups and downs in the UFC than Irvin has. Victories over Elvis Sinosic and Victor Valimaki were cancelled out by first-round losses to Dean Lister, Drew McFedries and the aforementioned Alexander. Sakara took time away for a return to boxing and has won two fights in a row. The decision victory over Leites was arguably the biggest of Sakara’s career.

The Italian boxer’s biggest nemesis has been himself, however, as his chin has failed him on more than one occasion. When matched against talented strikers with heavy hands, Sakara has wilted when he’s been unable to get the better of the early exchanges. Irvin possesses serious power in his hands and Sakara will need to use his superior technical striking ability to defeat the American.

“UFC On Versus 1: Vera vs Jones” takes place at the Odeum Colorado in Broomfield, Colorado on March 21st. The event, previously dubbed UFC Fight Night 21, is headlined by a light heavyweight clash between Brandon “The Truth” Vera and Jon “Bones” Jones and airs live on the Versus network in the United States.


(Photo Credit: Sherdog.com)