We should get used to seeing Merab Dvalishvili in the Michael Jackson-inspired jacket he stole from Sean O’Malley. The ‘Machine’ was in attendance for UFC 288, where his Serra-Longo Fight Team teammate and friend Aljamain Sterling defended the UFC bantamweight championship against Henry Cejudo. Also in attendance was O’Malley, who was waiting for the winner of Sterling vs. Cejudo for his ‘promised’ championship opportunity.
To drum up interest ahead of their fight, O’Malley entered the Octagon and started jawing at Sterling. It got heated to the point of ‘Suga’ needing to remove his jacket, which he handed off to someone he thought was UFC security. Except the someone he handed it off to was Dvalishvili.
Struck by opportunity, the Georgian fighter came up with an excellent idea. Immediately, the ‘Machine’ threw on the jacket and scaled the Octagon in what became one of the most discussed moments of the night.
Since then, Dvalishvili has continued—and will continue— to wear the jacket. In an interview with Nina-Marie Daniele on YouTube, the UFC bantamweight said he was wearing it until Sterling defends against O’Malley.
“I have a lot of nice clothes, but I’m not wearing them. I’m still using [this] jacket. How about this? I’m going to wear this until Aljo beats O’Malley. I’m keeping this jacket until Aljo beats O’Malley, so let’s see.”
Sterling and O’Malley are expected to share the Octagon at UFC 292, the upcoming pay-per-view event scheduled for Aug. 19 at the TD Garden in Boston, Mass. Should the ‘Funk Master’ get through O’Malley, then Dvalishvili says he would sell the jacket, possibly on eBay.
Merab Dvalishvili explains his post-UFC 288 moment
Earlier this month, Merab Dvalishvili addressed his jacket-stealing moment on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani.
“What happened was Aljo won the fight, we’re all happy,” said Dvalishvili. “I’m talking with [former Serra-Longo Fight Team teammate] Al Iaquinta. I hug Matt Serra and Ray Longo and we just stepped away. We just [were] watching Aljo, how happy he is, watching his interview, everything. And from nowhere, O’Malley comes in and he was talking s—t about Aljo and he faced off with Aljo. I tried to get there quick because I make sure I stay there because to make sure he doesn’t do something stupid or his coach, or somebody. I was there just in case.
“When he started talking s—t, I said, ‘Yo, yo, chill.’ I was smiling because Aljo and him [are] going to fight and I don’t want to disrespect O’Malley, but I also want to tell him this is Aljo’s moment,” continued Dvalishvili. “Be respectful to the champion, you know? And he started taking [off] the jacket and I was there. I can’t wait to grab this jacket actually.
“And soon as he take [it] off, I help actually to, like, take off from the hand, and then I grab it. And I’m just — Al was next to me, and he told me, ‘Don’t give him back.’ And I’m looking one second, I said ‘I have an even better idea.’ And then I put it on. And like, what is he going to do?”
What did O’Malley do? Compliment Dvalishvili, who he said ‘looked good in that jacket’.
Next for Merab Dvalishvili?
Following his unanimous decision win against Petr Yan at UFC Las Vegas this past March, Merab Dvalishvili revealed he needed surgery on the hand he injured during training. The 32-year-old successfully underwent surgery and hoped to return near the end of the year.
Against who remains to be seen, but Dvalishvili has expressed interest in Henry Cejudo.
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