According to a video interview with UFC president Dana White by Yahoo! Sports’ blog Cagewriter, James “The Sandman” Irvin will not return to the UFC’s middleweight division.
Irvin, normally a light-heavyweight, had been out of action since a July, 2008 knockout loss to Anderson Silva. “The Sandman” has been very injury prone throughout his career; this lead to a prescription painkiller dependency and contributed to his long layoff. Irvin kicked his habit and prepared himself to make his return to the UFC this past Sunday at “UFC on Versus 1″. Irvin is a very large 205 lbs fighter, so the news that he would be competing at 185lbs came as a surprise to many. He took on Alessio Sakara on Sunday night and lost in the first round. Many, including Dana White, think that the drastic weight cut was a big factor in the loss.
“He looked terrible at the weigh-ins. There was [expletive] coming out of his face. I didn’t know if it was skull or scar tissue or what it was. 205 is a tough cut for him. Tonight it looked like the 185 cut killed him,” said White. “He couldn’t get off. He couldn’t throw any punches tonight and he was basically getting lit up by Sakara. That’s not James Irvin. That’s not who he is as a fighter. I really like him a lot but no more 185 for him. He didn’t look good yesterday.”
From these comments it is probably safe to assume that Irvin will return to the UFC, just not as a middleweight. There is no word yet on any injuries he may have suffered in the loss or when he might fight again.