Apart from being known as Paul Blart the mall cop and Doug Heffernan from The King of Queens, actor Kevin James is also a long-time prizefighting enthusiast. A fan since the early Pancrase days, UFC commentator Joe Rogan also described him as a “serious martial artist” who “can hit”.
While this part of his life isn’t as known as his onscreen appearances, James spoke about it in a recent conversation with former UFC champion Chris Weidman for SiriusXM. Here, he recounted a time when he sparred with the current number three-ranked bantamweight contender Merab Dvalishvili.
"This guy turns it on and he doesn't know I'm an actor!"@KevinJames details a sparring session with 'The Machine' @MerabDvalishvil— MMA on SiriusXM (@MMAonSiriusXM) February 21, 2023
️'Won't Back Down Radio' w/ @chrisweidman pic.twitter.com/i5tvuIQpB8
“I tag in, and I go to him, and Merab comes at me. I go, ‘Hey man, let’s go.’ And I guess I look like a big, fat heavyweight or something, I didn’t know what it was. But this guy turns it on, and he doesn’t know I’m an actor. He’s the only guy that didn’t know I’m an actor.”
“He’s from the country Georgia. I guess ‘King of Queens’ is not big there,” Weidman interjected.
Safe to say, it didn’t turn out to be a good sparring session for James.
“I guess it’s not. But he doesn’t know. So he starts lighting me up like a Christmas tree. He starts tagging me, and I was freaking out. I had head gear on, too,” he recalled.
“That was scary. I was like, ‘Did you tell this guy? You didn’t tell this guy!’
“He had to prove, like, ‘I could knock out a heavyweight, too.’ And I was, like, ‘Are you kidding me?’”
Dvalishvili does have a reputation for being a bit of a wild man. The 32-year-old Georgian is currently on an eight-fight win streak, with his biggest victory happening at UFC 278 against future Hall-of-Famer José Aldo.
About the author: Milan Ordoñez has been covering combat sports since 2012 and has been part of the Bloody Elbow staff since 2016. He’s also competed in amateur mixed martial arts and submission grappling tournaments. (full bio)