With Chael Sonnen tapped to replace an injured Yushin Okami in May at UFC 98, James Irvin, who withdrew from his scheduled UFC 98 bout against Drew McFedries on Wednesday, will replace Sonnen in a bout against Wilson Gouveia on August 29th at UFC 102 in Portland, Oregon.
The news, which was first-reported by MMA Weekly, is just the latest in a string of card changes that have taken place this week. On Tuesday, Thiago Silva was bumped from his UFC 101 co-headliner against Forrest Griffin in favor of Anderson Silva and was then booked on Wednesday to fight Keith Jardine at UFC 102. On Thursday, Irvin withdrew from his bout against McFedries after suffering a knee injury and was replaced by Xavier Foupa-Pokam. Yesterday, Okami was forced out of his matchup with Dan Miller and replaced by Ed Herman, who was replaced by Sonnen just a few hours later.
Irvin (14-5) will be dropping down from light heavyweight to middleweight for the bout against Gouvia, which marks his return to the UFC after serving a nine-month suspension for testing positive for banned painkillers following his July 2008 loss to Anderson Silva. “The Sandman” is 3-2 since returning to the octagon in 2006, suffering a loss to Thiago Silva due to a knee injury and losing to the middleweight champion Silva while earning victories over Hector Ramirez, Luiz Cane, and Houston Alexander.
Gouveia (12-6) has compiled a 6-3 record in 9 UFC bouts, including back-to-back victories over Ryan Jensen and Jason MacDondald before suffering a third-round TKO loss to middleweight contender Nate Marquardt at UFC 95 in January.