James Irvin vs Alessio Sakara planned for March 21 bout at UFC on Versus 1

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Long-lost UFC middleweight James Irvin (14-5) is finally ready to make his Octagon return this spring against fellow striker Alessio Sakara (14-7) at UFC on Versus 1 from the Odeum Colorado in Broomfield on March 21, according to MMAWeekly.

The injury-prone "Sandman" hasn't seen action since going to sleep against Anderson Silva at UFC Fight Night 14 way back in July 2008. Following a nine-month drug suspension (after testing positive for Methadone and Oxymorphone post-"Spider" fight) he was booked to throw hands against Drew McFedries at UFC 98 last May before hurting his knee and pulling out of the contest.

Irvin was given time to heal and re-booked for UFC 102 in what should have been his middleweight debut against Wilson Gouveia this past August. Unfortunately he re-aggravated his injured knee and has been on the shelf ever since.

Now he's back and ready to prove he can still hang with the Octagon elite -- though "Legionarius" is hoping to prove otherwise.

The former Italian boxer was penciled in for a bout against Rousimar Palhares at the Dec. 5 Ultimate Fighter 10 Finale; however; Sakara suffered an injury in training and was forced to withdraw from the event.

Hopefully that blip on the radar didn't hurt his momentum. His split decision win over Thales Leites made it two straight for "Legionarius" -- the first time he's been able to string together consecutive wins since his Octagon debut at UFC 55 all the way back in October 2005.

Prior to defeating Leites, he scored a brutal knockout of Joe Vedepo via head kick at UFC Fight Night 15 in September 2008. It was an eye-opening finish from the heavy-handed American Top Team product to say the least.

A big win over Irvin and it may be time to start talking about his place in the 185-pound division.

UFC on Versus 1 is set to feature a ridiculous main event between dynamic light heavyweight strikers Brandon "The Truth" Vera and Jon "Bones" Jones. Anthony "Rumble" Johnson, Clay "The Carpenter" Guida, John "Doomsday" Howard, Sean "The Muscle Shark" Sherk, Spencer "The King" Fisher and others are also expected to be in action on what is shaping up to be a great card for the promotion's debut on the Versus network.

To check out the latest fight card and rumors for UFC on Versus 1: "Vera vs. Jones" click here.

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