Merab Dvalishvili wouldn’t be a fighter if he didn’t dive head first into things.
In the cage, that’s paid off handsomely in the form of high-profile wins, most recently a second-round stoppage of one-time title challenger Marlon Moraes at UFC 266. Until Dvalishvili was winning the fight, he was teetering all over the octagon after taking heavy shots in the first.
In the real world, it hasn’t always worked out as well for the 30-year-old Georgia native, though it’s been entertaining for the rest of us. Dvalishvili recently went viral when he tried to dive head-first into an icy lake only to find it was actually frozen.
“Oh my god, that was pain,” Dvalishvili said Monday on The MMA Hour. “But more like, ‘Why did I do this?’”
He turned off his camera phone and said a few “very bad words.” Then he assessed the damage.
“Once I gripped my head, and I felt it, my skin fell off,” he said. “Like, everywhere.”
Seventeen staples later, Dvalishvili was as good as new. But he couldn’t train for a couple of days, so he went back to the lake – for a rematch.
With headgear, boxing gloves, and a willing camera person, he showed the ice who was boss, grounding and pounding it into submission before dunking himself in. That was the whole point of this thing - a nice cool down after a hard run around his neighborhood one day.
Dvalishvili doesn’t go easy, though, and he doesn’t like to lose at anything.
Back home in Georgia, the video was a win. TV stations and comedy shows played the videos on repeat – the national fighter breaking his head in frozen water.
“Some people laughed, some people learned, some people called me stupid,” Dvalishvili said. “But I’m fine.”
Dvalishvili, who’s tied with Kyoji Horiguchi for the No. 9 spot in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings, looked a lot better after two rounds with Moraes than he did after one with the frozen lake. Next on his schedule should be a top-five opponent with the No. 6 Brazilian unable to stop his intensity and toughness.
Currently at the top of the UFC bantamweight division is Dvalishvili’s longtime training partner and friend, Aljamain Sterling. But that’s one barrier he vows never to run through.
The next time he goes for a swim, he’ll try to be a little more careful.
“I will jump in frozen water, but the smart way, not breaking my head,” Dvalishvili said.