James Irvin (fighter)

James Lee Irvin[1] (born September 12, 1978) is a retired American professional mixed martial artist, who was a professional competitor from 2003 to 2012, Irvin is the former WEC Heavyweight Champion and has also competed in the UFC, Strikeforce, Bellator and KSW.

James Irvin
James Irvin (fighter).png
Born (1978-09-12) September 12, 1978 (age 43)
Huntington Beach, California, United States
Other namesSandman, The Turbine
Height6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight185 lb (84 kg; 13 st 3 lb)
Light Heavyweight
Reach75.0 in (191 cm)
Fighting out ofCorona, California, United States
TeamCapital City Fighting Alliance
Years active2003–2013
Mixed martial arts record
By knockout12
By submission3
By decision1
By disqualification1
By knockout5
By submission4
By decision1
No contests2
Other information
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog


Irvin was born in Huntington Beach and attended Del Oro High School in Loomis, California, where he played football. Irvin's football career continued at Azusa Pacific University, which he attended on an athletic scholarship. Irvin was first introduced to MMA when he saw a match in person, and was very interested. He immediately started Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and began training to become a fighter.[2]

Mixed martial arts careerEdit

Ultimate Fighting ChampionshipEdit

After losing to Mike Kyle in his UFC debut, Irvin returned to the promotion at UFC 54 against boxing specialist and former collegiate wrestler Terry Martin. The much shorter Martin dominated Irvin in round one, but as soon as the bell sounded to start the second round, Irvin came out and landed a flying knee that rendered Martin unconscious. Commentator Joe Rogan called the KO the "best flying knee" he had ever seen.

Irvin defeated Hector Ramirez at UFC 65 via TKO in the second round after dropping Ramirez with a stiff jab, following with a kick to the body, and finishing the fight on the ground with elbows. Both fighters were awarded Fight of the Night awards.

Irvin faced UFC newcomer Thiago Silva on May 26, 2007 at UFC 71. He lost after injuring his knee during one of Silva's takedowns in the first round.

Irvin won a disqualification victory over the formerly undefeated Luiz Cané at UFC 79 after he was illegally kneed in the head by Cané.

On April 2, 2008, Irvin fought Houston Alexander as the opening fight on the main card of UFC Fight Night: Kenny Florian vs Joe Lauzon, knocking Alexander out with a superman punch in 8 seconds.[3] The 8-second knockout tied the record of fastest knockout in UFC history until UFC 102, where Todd Duffee broke the record with a 7-second KO.

Irvin was supposed to fight Rashad Evans at UFC 85 in London, England but he sustained a foot injury that forced him to pull out and Evans was removed from the card as well.[4]

When the UFC's middleweight champion Anderson Silva was to make his light-heavyweight division debut, Irvin became his opponent after four other fighters had already declined.[5] UFC: Silva vs Irvin was intentionally scheduled for July 19, 2008 in order to conflict with the pay-per-view broadcast of Affliction: Banned.[6] Despite Irvin being the larger fighter, he was regarded as a significant underdog. At about one minute into the first round, Silva caught a kick dealt by Irvin and knocked him down with a straight right hand. Silva then followed with a barrage of punches ending the fight by KO.[7][8] Afterwards, Irvin tested positive for methadone and oxymorphone.[9] Irvin subsequently admitted to taking the drugs, stating that he had begun taking painkillers legally as treatment for injuries, and had then become addicted to them.[10]

Irvin was scheduled to return at UFC 98 against Drew McFedries, making his debut as a middleweight.[11] However, he was unable to fight because of a torn meniscus.[12] Irvin injured his knee, forcing him out of a planned middleweight fight against Wilson Gouveia at UFC 102. This would be second straight event Irvin has backed out of due to the same injury.

Irvin then confirmed he would return on one of the UFC's three shows in March,[13] and was later added to the card at UFC LIVE: Vera vs. Jones where he made his debut as a middleweight against Alessio Sakara. Irvin was defeated in the first round after receiving a punch straight in the eye. He covered up and the referee called timeout, assuming an eye poke had occurred. The replay showed that Sakara delivered a legal punch to Irvin's eye, and the fight ended in a TKO victory for Sakara.

Irvin then returned to light heavyweight and faced Igor Pokrajac on August 1, 2010 at UFC on Versus 2.[14] Midway through the first round, Irvin was taken down and was hit by Pokrajac's shoulder as he hit the floor. While visibly hurt, Irvin rolled over and was submitted by a rear naked choke.

Irvin was released from the UFC following his loss to Pokrajac, his third straight loss with the promotion. President Dana White was complimentary of Irvin, saying he expects to see Irvin back in the UFC someday.

Independent promotionsEdit

After his release from the UFC, Irvin went on to face and defeat Angel DeAnda in Roseville, California on October 2, 2010 at a Rebel Fights event by way of KO to Win Rebel Fight Heavyweight Championship.

Irvin next faced Jorge Oliveira on December 2, 2010 at "Tachi Palace Fights 7: Deck the Halls". Irvin was defeated by Oliveira in the first round by triangle choke.[15]

James Irvin next fought Mike Crisman at Gladiator Challenge Young Guns 4 on January 29, 2011 with special guest Ken Shamrock serving as the referee. The much bigger and stronger Irvin was caught early in the fight by a well placed punch by Crisman. The vet quickly recovered, and caught a sluggish leg kick, taking Crisman down. Crisman scrambled to get back up and was apparently hit with an illegal knee. With Crisman unable to continue, the fight was ruled a no contest because Shamrock judged that the illegal knee was unintentional. Irvin went on to say, "I beat the brakes off this fool...he was sleeping on the ground. Ken Shamrock says I illegally kneed him, so it was a no-contest! I KO'd this guy and walked away before Shamrock even got there, and two minutes later, he says it's a no-contest. It's cool. I don't have a scratch on me, and I'm fighting again in three weeks. That was the luckiest night of that dude's life." [16] Ken Shamrock turned down an offer to fight Irvin. Irvin said from the start that he had a bad feeling about Ken calling the bout.[17]

Houston Alexander revealed that he will face Irvin at Shark Fights 14 on March 11 in Lubbock, Texas. Shark Fights was ultimately forced to cancel the scheduled Irvin vs Alexander II bout after Irvin tested positive for steroids, along with Alexander sustaining an injury during training.[18] Irvin tested positive for epitrenbolone metabolite trenbolone. A steroid used for muscle growth in body builders and farm animals.[18]

While currently suspended from competition in the United States, Irvin opted go to Europe for his next fight. He faced Mamed Khalidov in the main event of KSW 15 on March 19, 2011 and lost by submission.[19]

James Irvin has stated that 2011 will be his "learning year" and wants to earn his way back to the UFC in 2012.[20] Since leaving the UFC he has gone 3-2-1.[21] James has re-located his training to the UFC gym in Corona, and expects to return to action by December 2 when his suspension is lifted. He also hopes to continue fighting at 185 lbs if possible.[22] On February 26, 2012 Irvin was scheduled to fight Brandon Halsey at Gladiator Challenge Bombs Away, but Halsey was replaced by Geovantie Davis the day of the fight. Irvin defeated Davis via TKO. This was his first win since late 2010.[23] Irvin faced yet another Gladiator Challenge Opponent at their March 30 show, "Ringside." A late replacement for a previous unknown opponent, Mike LaFlair was not of the same caliber as Irvin and was mercifully taken down early and submitted at 1:22 of the first round.[24]

In his next fight, he fought Scott Rosa and lost by TKO (knees and punches) in round 2.

Bellator MMAEdit

In May 2014, it was confirmed that Irvin had signed with Bellator MMA. He was expected to face Brennan Ward at Bellator 123 on September 5, 2014.[25] However, the bout was cancelled. Irvin was then expected to face Brian Rogers at Bellator 125.[26] Irvin pulled out of the bout due to injury and was replaced with Brett Cooper.[27]

Personal lifeEdit

Irvin is married. Irvin's family owns a construction business and he works construction when he is not fighting. Irvin’s brother, Jesse Irvin is a deputy with the Solano county Sheriffs office. As of 2015, Irvin is a Mixed Martial Arts Instructor and Coach at UFC Gym Ontario in Ontario, California.[5]

Championships and accomplishmentsEdit

Mixed martial arts recordEdit

Professional record breakdown
29 matches 17 wins 10 losses
By knockout 12 5
By submission 3 4
By decision 1 1
By disqualification 1 0
No contests 2
Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Loss 17–10 (2) Scott Rosa TKO (knees and punches) GC: Star Wars April 29, 2012 2 1:35 San Jacinto, California, United States
Win 17–9 (2) Mike LaFlair Submission (armbar) GC: Ringside March 30, 2012 1 1:22 Lincoln, California, United States
Win 16–9 (2) Geovantie Davis KO (punches) GC: Bombs Away February 26, 2012 1 1:34 San Jacinto, California, United States
Loss 15–9 (2) Mamed Khalidov Submission (armbar) KSW 15: Contemporary Gladiators March 19, 2011 1 0:33 Warszawa, Poland Catchweight (200.6 lb) bout; Irvin missed weight.
NC 15–8 (2) Mike Crisman NC (illegal knee) GC: Young Guns 4 January 29, 2011 1 3:32 Elko, Nevada, United States Crisman hit with an illegal knee by Irvin.
Loss 15–8 (1) Jorge Oliveira Submission (triangle armbar) TPF 7 December 2, 2010 1 1:33 Lemoore, California, United States Tested positive for trenbolone.
Win 15–7 (1) Angel DeAnda KO (punch) Rebel Fights: Domination October 2, 2010 1 1:42 Roseville, California, United States Won the Rebel Fights Heavyweight Championship.
Loss 14–7 (1) Igor Pokrajac Submission (rear-naked choke) UFC Live: Jones vs. Matyushenko August 1, 2010 1 2:29 San Diego, California, United States Return to Light Heavyweight.
Loss 14–6 (1) Alessio Sakara TKO (punch) UFC Live: Vera vs. Jones March 21, 2010 1 3:01 Broomfield, Colorado, United States Middleweight debut.
Loss 14–5 (1) Anderson Silva KO (punches) UFC: Silva vs. Irvin July 19, 2008 1 1:01 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Tested positive for methadone and oxymorphone.[9]
Win 14–4 (1) Houston Alexander KO (punches) UFC Fight Night 13 April 2, 2008 1 0:08 Broomfield, Colorado, United States Knockout of the Night.
Win 13–4 (1) Luiz Cané DQ (illegal knee) UFC 79 December 29, 2007 1 1:51 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Loss 12–4 (1) Thiago Silva TKO (knee injury) UFC 71 May 26, 2007 1 1:06 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 12–3 (1) Hector Ramirez TKO (body kick and elbows) UFC 65 November 18, 2006 2 2:36 Sacramento, California, United States Fight of the Night.
Win 11–3 (1) Gary LaFranchi Submission (armbar) Valor Fighting: Showdown at Cache Creek II September 15, 2006 1 1:47 Brooks, California, United States
NC 10–3 (1) Bobby Southworth NC (both fighters fell out the cage) Strikeforce: Revenge June 9, 2006 1 0:17 San Jose, California, United States
Win 10–3 William Hill Decision (unanimous) IFC: Caged Combat April 1, 2006 3 5:00 Sacramento, California, United States
Loss 9–3 Lodune Sincaid Decision (split) WEC 19 March 17, 2006 3 5:00 Lemoore, California, United States
Loss 9–2 Stephan Bonnar Submission (kimura) UFC Fight Night 3 January 16, 2006 1 4:30 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 9–1 Terry Martin KO (flying knee) UFC 54 August 20, 2005 2 0:09 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Light Heavyweight debut.
Win 8–1 Doug Marshall KO (knee) WEC 15 May 19, 2005 2 0:45 Lemoore, California, United States Defended the WEC Heavyweight Championship.
Loss 7–1 Mike Kyle KO (punch) UFC 51 February 5, 2005 1 1:55 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 7–0 Houssain Oushani KO (punch) WEC 12 October 21, 2004 1 2:27 Lemoore, California, United States Won the WEC Heavyweight Championship.
Win 6–0 Jody Poff TKO (punches) WEC 11 August 20, 2004 1 1:44 Lemoore, California, United States
Win 5–0 Bo Cantrell KO (knee) GC 24 March 20, 2004 1 2:39 Hopland, California, United States
Win 4–0 Scott Smith KO (punch) GC 22 February 12, 2004 1 2:21 Colusa, California, United States
Win 3–0 Pete Werve TKO (doctor stoppage) GC 20 November 13, 2003 1 5:00 Colusa, California, United States
Win 2–0 Allen Scoville Submission (armbar) GC 18 August 21, 2003 1 2:42 Colusa, California, United States
Win 1–0 Bo Cantrell KO (knee and punches) GC 16 June 1, 2003 1 2:54 Colusa, California, United States

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "NSAC results for UFC: Silva vs. Irvin" (PDF). boxing.nv.gov. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-05-21. Retrieved 2009-03-24.
  2. ^ "Report: Irvin Overweight for KSW Middleweight Bout". sherdog.com. 2008-07-06. Retrieved 2011-03-19.
  3. ^ "Top 10 Fastest Knockouts In UFC History - [Updated 2022]". 2021-07-23. Retrieved 2022-04-08.
  4. ^ "411mania.com: MMA – Rashad Evans To Face James Irvin At UFC 85". Archived from the original on 2012-09-18. Retrieved 2008-05-07.
  5. ^ a b "Bring me a dream: An exclusive interview with James "The Sandman" Irvin". MMAMANIA.com, By: Jesse Holland. 2008-07-06. Retrieved 2008-07-06.
  6. ^ "UFC Combats Affliction's PPV Premier". RedSweat. June 18, 2008. Archived from the original on June 20, 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-18.
  7. ^ Mike Sloan (2008-07-20). "Silva Dismantles Irvin in 61 Seconds". Sherdog. Retrieved 2009-02-21.
  8. ^ Jeff Cain (2008-07-20). "UFC FIGHT NIGHT REVIEW: SILVA DOMINATES; VERA WINS". MMAWeekly.com. Archived from the original on August 11, 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-21.
  9. ^ a b MMAjunkie Staff (July 29, 2008). "NSAC: UFC's James Irvin tests positive for methadone and oxymorphone". MMA Junkie. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
  10. ^ "Irvin Back in the UFC After Battling Drugs and Injuries", TSN.ca, March 16, 2010.
  11. ^ Jamie Penick. "James Irvin returns against Drew McFedries at UFC 98".
  12. ^ Damon Martin. "XAVIER FOUPA-POKAM STEPS IN TO FIGHT MCFEDRIES". Archived from the original on 2009-05-03.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-01-11. Retrieved 2010-01-09.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "JAMES IRVIN VS IGOR POKRAJAC AT UFC ON VERSUS 2". mmaweekly.com. Archived from the original on 2010-05-09. Retrieved 2010-05-06.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-10-24. Retrieved 2010-11-07.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Gladiator Challenge: 'World's Most Dangerous Referee' rules Irvin vs Crisman a no-contest". 31 January 2011.
  17. ^ "UFC News Archives - Cage Potato".
  18. ^ a b "Shark Fights cancels Irvin vs Houston Alexander". mmaweekly.com. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
  19. ^ "Report: Irvin Overweight for KSW Middleweight Bout". sherdog.com. 2011-03-18. Retrieved 2011-03-19.
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-02-18. Retrieved 2011-02-14.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ "James Irvin tests positive for steroids, suspended for one year". 2 March 2011.
  22. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "James Irvin says if you're going to take performance enhancing drugs, check the ban list first". YouTube.
  23. ^ "Gladiator Challenge - Dave Huckaba". www.gladiatorchallenge.com. Archived from the original on 2007-08-12.
  24. ^ "Gladiator Challenge-Spectacular Night". www.gladiatorchallenge.com. Archived from the original on 2012-09-08.
  25. ^ "James Irvin-Brennan Ward set for Bellator 123 Season 11 opener on Sept. 5". mmajunkie.com. May 28, 2014.
  26. ^ "Manhoef vs. Marshall Headline Bellator 125". bellator.com. August 12, 2014. Archived from the original on August 19, 2014.
  27. ^ "James Irvin out, Brian Rogers meets Brett Cooper at Bellator 125". mmajunkie.com. August 29, 2014.

External linksEdit

New championship 1st WEC Heavyweight Champion
August 20, 2004 – January 6, 2006
Irvin moved to Light Heavyweight
Title next held by
Brian Olsen