After an extensive 18 month layoff, UFC middleweight James Irvin (14-5 MMA, 4-4 UFC) is set to make his return in a bout with fellow veteran Alessio Sakara (14-7 MMA, 5-4 UFC). The fight will take place at the UFC’s first card on the Versus network in March.

The news of the bout was initially reported on and confirmed by sources close to each fighter that bout agreements had been distributed.

The event, dubbed “UFC on Versus: Vera vs. Jones” is on tap for March 21st in Broomfield, Colo. Headlining the card is an intriguing light heavyweight matchup between longtime UFC vet Brandon “The Truth” Vera and up-and-coming prospect Jon “Bones” Jones.

“The Sandman” James Irvin has not fought since a July 2008 TKO loss to Anderson Silva in a light heavyweight non-title affair. Since then, Irvin has been placed on the backburner by a combination of injuries and a mandatory suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission after testing positive for prescription painkillers.

Sakara is coming off of two UFC wins, including one over Joe Vedepo in 2008 and a decision win over Thales Leites at UFC 101 in August of this past year. Recently, Sakara was forced out of a bout with Rousimar Palhares after succumbing to an undisclosed injury during his training camp.

The current lineup also includes a heavyweight clash between Junior Dos Santos and Gabriel Gonzaga, as well as welterweight affair between rising stars Anthony Johnson and John Howard.