Hollywood’s Kevin James recalls ‘terrifying’ training session with UFC’s Dvalishvili who took him for an MMA guy

Hollywood icon Kevin James is renowned for his comedic roles in hit movies like Paul Blart Mall Cop and TV shows like The King of Queens. He recently shared a memorable story involving MMA star Merab Dvalishvili.

The versatile actor ventured into the realm of Mixed Martial Arts with his portrayal of Scott Voss in the 2012 film ‘Here Comes the Boom’. In the movie, Voss is a teacher who starts his journey to save his school’s music program by taking up combat sports.

During his preparation for the role, James trained at the prestigious Serra-Longo gym. The institution is known for nurturing talents like former UFC champions Matt Serra, Chris Weidman, and Aljamain Sterling. James embraced the rigorous lifestyle of a contender during his time at the gym.

Reflecting on his experience on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, James talked about about the friendship he developed with Weidman and Sterling during his training camp.

He said: “I did one with training camp with [Chris] Weidman, Aljo [Aljamain Sterling] and those guys,” he said during a recent appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience. I just jumped in with them. I was with them for a few weeks, and then I had to go out. You develop this brotherhood. It was so much fun! You are going through everything together, you’re eating together, you’re running sprints together. I was like, ‘Woah! This is really, really cool.'”

The actor vividly described the solidarity formed through shared meals, intense workouts, and sprint sessions. However, James was not totally at ease sparring with professional competitors. This was despite the fact that most of them treated him very carefully since he was a civilian.

Unfortunately, Dvalishvili did not know who Kevin James was. During their very short training session, he handled the 58-year-old like a heavyweight competitor since he thought he was one.

James continued: “I came on my first day, and they were sparring in the Octagon. I had my headgear on, and everyone was pairing off with everybody. I got in there, Aljo knows me, these guys know me. Merab thinks I’m a fat, old fighter. I’ve got the headgear on, he doesn’t recognise me as an actor, and he starts dancing around.”

“I know right away he doesn’t know I’m an outside guy, he thinks I’m a guy in the camp. He just starts going crazy, and I go, ‘Oh my God!’ I’m trying to throw punches and this guy is moving around like crazy on me.”

“I was looking for Weidman. [Dvalishvili] was the sweetest guy ever, but I got lit up by him in two seconds. I had to take [my headgear] off and say, ‘I’m an actor, man.”

Despite being under 5 feet 6 inches and weighing 135 pounds, Dvalishvili is one of the most gifted contenders currently competing for the UFC. He recently defeated Olympic gold medalist wrestler Henry Cejudo and ended up securing his chance at the bantamweight title.

Before 2024 ends, Dvalishvili is anticipated to compete against Sean O’Malley.