James Irvin's Miserable Trip To Middleweight

When James Irvin announced his intentions to drop to 185 pounds from his normal 205 there was no one more skeptical than me.  Irvin had always been a guy with an action figure physique and to cut 20 pounds from a frame lacking in fat was going to take either losing muscle (strength) or a massive amount of dehydration before the weigh-ins (energy).

When Irvin showed up to the UFC on Versus 1 weigh-ins for his first fight in a year I don't think anyone was expecting to see this:

20100320050418_img_9166_medium

via www.cdn.sherdog.com

On Sunday night from the opening bell Irvin looked slow and generally unable to get off with his strikes while the much faster Alessio Sakara (a man who belongs at middleweight) worked angles and combinations to bust "The Sandman" up and get right back out of danger.  Eventually a punch landed directly to the eye of Irvin, causing him to retreat and the fight to be called off due to an eye injury.

CompuStrike has the totals for the fight:

Alessio Sakara
James Irvin
22/35
Total Strikes Landed/Thrown
8/23
63%
Percentage
35%
19/32
Total Arm Strikes Landed/Thrown
4/17
59%
Percentage
24%
19
Power Strikes Landed
4
0
Clinch Strikes Landed
0
2/2
Total Leg Strikes Landed/Thrown
4/6
100%
Percentage
67%
2
Kicks Landed
4
0
Knees Landed
0
1/1
Ground Strikes Landed/Thrown
0/0
100%
Percentage
0%
0/0
Takedowns/Attempts
0/0
0
Submission Attempts
0
0
Knockdowns
1
0
Dominant Positions
0

 

Dana White has made it clear that he will not allow Irvin to fight at 185 pounds going forward:

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 85 cut killed him. 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.

Weight cutting makes sense for some fighters but others need to understand that their bodies can not make the cut, and certain fighting styles will gain no benefit from dropping 20 pounds.  Irvin's game has always been to stand and bang, was dropping weight going to make him better at that?  Or was it just the search for new life that pushed him to dry himself out only to get manhandled by Alessio Sakara?

Maybe Irvin should look to bulk back up to heavyweight, where he fought early in his career, to find fights with men like Kimbo Slice, Brendan Schaub or other Ultimate Fighter veterans.  The added mass is likely to not take too much away from his game were he to fight at 215-220 pounds.  Any future is brighter for James than the one that awaits him at middleweight.

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