James Irvin has stated that 2011 will be his "learning year" and wants to earn his way back to the UFC in 2012.  Since leaving the UFC he has gone 3-2-1.  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.  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.  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. 
On September 2, 2008, the UFC announced it had signed Couture to a new three-fight contract. On November 15, he returned at UFC 91 in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he lost the UFC Heavyweight Championship to Brock Lesnar .  At first a closely contested match, Lesnar knocked Couture down in the second round and struck him with hammerfists for a TKO victory at 3:07.  In a post-fight interview with Joe Rogan , Couture declared his desire to keep fighting and said he felt he was still becoming a better fighter, blaming the loss on his performance, not his age.
Where to begin? It’s sad to say that I am 1,000 times more embarrassed of what I'm about to tell you, than I am of being accused of the crimes that have landed me in jail. It’s a testament to how screwed up my way of thinking is, as well as to how screwed up our society has become. At first I blamed this whole situation on Christy and that guy. Then I blamed my bad luck. Then I blamed my bad karma. Then I blamed myself. Then I blamed steroids. Then I blamed the programming job done to my subconscious mind…A product of a traumatic childhood and a poor choice of role models. One of them has to be the culprit, there must be some reason that, though I always have the best of intentions, I keep landing myself in huge messes.