James Irvin (above) meets Mamed Khalidov in Poland on March 19. | Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com
First it was Matt Lindland, then Thales Leites. Now, Mamed Khalidov’s opponent for March 19 has changed yet again.
The Polish middleweight standout will square off against UFC veteran James Irvin in the main event of Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki 15, which takes place at Towar Hall in Warsaw. The promotion officially announced the switch on Wednesday.
Khalidov’s original foe, Lindland, was forced from the matchup in February due to a hand injury sustained in training. Thereafter, the organization revealed that Leites would step in for “The Law,” but the Brazilian was soon also found to be injured. Irvin’s participation was first rumored last week following the cancelation of his Shark Fights 14 co-main event with Houston Alexander, which was scrapped after Irvin allegedly tested positive for an anabolic steroid following a December bout in California.
Irvin, 32, was released by the UFC for the second time in August after suffering consecutive losses to Anderson Silva, Alessio Sakara and Igor Pokrajac. The California-based “Sandman” served a nine-month suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission between the Silva and Sakara bouts after testing positive for illegal painkillers. Irvin has won just one of his last six outings, an October knockout of Angel DeAnda under the Rebel Fights banner.
The current KSW light heavyweight champion, 30-year-old Khalidov was last seen in Tokyo on Dec. 30, when he punched out Yuki Sasaki at Sengoku Raiden Championships’ “Soul of Fight.” The Chechen-born fighter has won 18 of his last 21 bouts, losing just once since 2005. That loss came in March 2010, a five-round decision defeat at the hands of then-SRC middleweight champ Jorge Santiago, whom Khalidov had knocked out four months prior.