Hard-hitting middleweights James Irvin and Alessio Sakara are in talks to make their Octagon returns against each other at UFC on Versus 1: "Vera vs. Jones" on March 21 at The Odeum Colorado in Broomfield, Colorado. News of the bout was first reported by MMAWeekly.com
The 'UFC on Versus' event is headlined by a much anticipated light-heavyweight bout between Jon Jones and Brandon Vera. In addition, rising contender Junior dos Santos will take on former UFC heavyweight title contender Gabriel Gonzaga in the night's co-main event.
Irvin (14-5) hasn't fought since losing to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva in a featured light-heavyweight bout at UFC Fight Night 14 in July 2008. Following the loss, he tested positive for banned painkillers--Methadone and Oxymorphone-- and was suspended nine months for the transgression.
Irvin was set to return from his suspension and make his middleweight debut against Drew McFedries at UFC 98 last May,however, he withdrew from the event because of a torn meniscus. He tried again to make his middleweight debut against Wilson Gouviea at UFC 102 in August, but was forced off of that event after he re-aggravated his knee injury.
Prior to the loss against Silva, Irvin has won two straight fights against Luiz Cane and Houston Alexander. He has put together an even 4-4 record in eight fights with the UFC, scoring other notable Octagon wins over Terry Martin and Hector Ramirez. The Gladiator Challenge, WEC and Strikeforce veteran has finished 12 of his 14 career wins including 10 coming by TKO or KO.
Sakara (14-7) is currently on a two-fight winning streak, most recently notching a split-decision win over Thales Leites at UFC 101 in August. He hasn't fought since the win over Leites, as he was originally set to face Rousimar Palhares at TUF 10 finale in December but was reportedly forced off the event with "documentation/visa issues."
Sakara sports a 5-4 (1 NC) UFC record, with other Octagon wins coming over Victor Valimaki, Elvis Sinosic and James Lee. During his seven-year career, he has competed for other notable promotions such as Meca World Vale Tudo, M-1 and Jungle Fight. The American Top Team Fighter has scored stoppages in 10 of his 14 career wins.