James Irvin: The "Other Guy" in Saturday's UFC Event

Danny BurnhamCorrespondent IJuly 17, 2008

Most of the hype surrounding Saturday night's UFC live television event is centered on Middle-weight Champion Anderson Silva, who is making his debut in the Light Heavy-weight division.

Many believe Silva to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He has cleaned out the Middle-weight division and is an impressive 6-0 in the UFC. Silva isn't just knocking out patsies, he has handled some of the best fighters in the world.

Nate Marquart, Chris Leben, Dan Henderson, and Rich Franklin (twice) are just a few of the names that weren't mentioned by the ring announcer after an Anderson Silva fight.

Silva is so confident in his ability that he even challenged boxing champion Roy Jones, Jr. to a match on his own terms.

Anderson Silva is a great fighter, there's no arguing that. But what about the "other guy" in Saturday night's match? His name is James "The Sandman" Irvin.

Irvin is an accomplished fighter in his own right. He has an overall record of 14-4 with one no contest, and 10 of those wins coming by way of knockout.

The heavy-handed fighter from Sacramento, California is no stranger to changing divisions himself. Irvin is a former WEC Heavy-weight champion (before Zuffa bought the WEC and eliminated the division) who vacated his crown to fight in the UFC.

Irvin has wins over the likes of former WEC Light Heavy-weight champion Doug Marshall, Terry Martin, and Houston Alexander. In the match with Alexander, Irvin tied the UFC record for the fastest knockout, disposing of his opponent in only eight seconds by way of Superman punch.

With ability like that, Irvin should not be taken lightly, even against a fighter of Silva's talents.

Irvin may also hold the distinction for the strangest ending to a fight. In June of 2006, before he came to the UFC, he and his opponent fell out of cage through a gate that was left unlocked resulting in a no contest.

The UFC thinks highly of his ability. Saturday in Las Vegas will be the second time that the UFC has scheduled him in a main event.

Irvin was scheduled to replace Chuck Liddell on what seemed to be a snake bitten UFC 85 card in London, against Rashad Evans (who himself was a replacement for Mauricio Rua), but was unable to make the fight after sustaining a foot injury. Irvin is now healed up (no pun intended) and ready to go.

Silva will be looking to test the waters in the 205-pound division on Saturday, but don't expect James Irvin to dust off the welcome mat.