James Irvin weighs-in for UFC 79: Nemesis. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
To say that James Irvin has had a run of bad luck recently is putting it lightly.
After an impressive stoppage of Hector Ramirez allowed Irvin to continue his career with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Irvin was unable to ride a wave of momentum through his next fight, courtesy of a brutal knee injury suffered against Thiago Silva last May.
Months of rehab followed and Irvin recovered well-enough to score a showdown with Luis Cane in December to close out the year. The first minute and a half of the fight went exactly as expected with both fighters exchanging bombs on the feet. However Cane ended the fight when he knocked Irvin out cold with an illegal knee, handing Irvin the victory but once again leaving him unable to put the outcome of a fight in his own hands.
With last year now in the past, Irvin enters his clash with Houston Alexander on Wednesday in dire need of a win if he wants to stay with the UFC. However more important to Irvin at this point, is starting off the new year with a clean slate.
“Last year was a terrible year for me,” Irvin said during a recent interview session. “The win over Hector Ramirez was huge because it kept me in the UFC. Then I hurt my knee and that stung really bad. Being a striker, my knees are so important to have, and I thought that my career might have been cut short. Luckily I was able to recover and the UFC stuck by me and gave me another chance. Now I’m ready to turn the page and start this year fresh.”
It might sound weird when a fighter says that winning an upcoming bout isn’t really at the top of their agenda. But after last year, Irvin would just like to get back to the way things used to be.
“I’d be lying if I said that my main focus going into this fight was to win,” Irvin said. “I mean, you always want to win the fight and that’s still my goal, but with everything that happened last year, the illegal knee situation, me being injured, I just want to go in there, put on a good fight, and come out of it injury-free. That’s all I want.”
The fact that both Irvin and Alexander have a combined total of fourteen wins by either knockout or technical knockout is an obvious reason why their light heavyweight matchup is expected to start off Spike TV’s three-hour broadcast of the latest edition of UFC Fight Night.
While both are equally as dangerous on the feet, Irvin freely admits that Alexander likely has a sizeable advantage in the strength department, despite Irvin previously competing at heavyweight during the first half of his career.
“Houston looks like a professional bodybuilder, that’s how big he really is,” Irvin stated. “I’d love to clinch up and throw knees but I’m not sure if I’ll even be able to do that with him. I’m sure I’ll find out the first time I put my hands on him. If he’s too strong and I need to get out of there, I still have the ability to create distance with my leg kicks.”
It would be an understatement to say that this fight might be a war on the feet. Looking at both fighter’s past bouts and their styles, it’s a lock and Irvin agrees.
“This fight is going to last a couple of minutes at most,” said Irvin. “It won’t go out of the first round and I think everyone knows that. We both have the ability to knock each other out so it’s going to come down to who can land that one good shot. He has a hell of a right hand and so do I. I need to stay away from his power shots and land mine in order to win.”
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