BROOMFIELD, Colo. - If something can go wrong it will go wrong for James Irvin. It couldn't happen again, right? Wrong. Irvin suffered another odd loss at the hands of Alessio Sakara in the opening bout of the television portion of UFC on Versus 1.
What really happened? It depends on who you speak with. Irvin seemed to suggest in the cage that he was the victim of an eye poke. Referee Josh Rosenthal jumped in to stop the fight thinking it was simply a punch that made Irvin turn his back and drop to a knee. Video replays and the photo above seem to indicate it was a clean punch. The fight was stopped at 3:01 of the first round giving Sakara (15-7-1, 6-4-1) his third straight UFC victory.
Sakara looked better than he has in a while. His punches were crisp and he showed extra power. The former boxer pointed to a change in training. He's longer training with eight or 10-oz. boxing gloves. He only trains with the smaller gloves.
UFC president Dana White admitted during the postfight that he's a huge fan of Irvin (14-6, 4-5 UFC), but that the fighter just didn't look right down at middleweight. He did look sluggish at times and was an easy target for Sakara's combinations.
Irvin, who was returning from a brutal loss at the hands of Anderson Silva, a drug suspension and visit to drug rehab, has had a star-crossed UFC career. He was probably glad to return to Colorado, the scene of one of his best victories, an eight second KO of Houston Alexander. But with his luck, Irvin couldn't produce another sterling performance. This is a guy who blew out his knee in a loss to Thiago Silva at UFC 71. He also had to pull out of several matches during 2007, 2008 and 2009 because of lingering knee issues.