Rising Star Merab Dvalishvili Shared Moment With Mark Zuckerberg at UFC 298

Merab Dvalishvili at UFC 298.

Getty Merab Dvalishvili exchanges strikes with Henry Cejudo in their UFC 298 fight.

Rising UFC star Merab Dvalishvili said Meta boss and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg did a little more than simply attend the UFC 298 show at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Southern California.

Zuckerberg “was coaching” Dvalishvili at one point during his victory over Henry Cejudo — the fighter’s third win on the spin in which he defeated a former UFC champion.

That’s according to Dvalishvili himself, who told reporters at the post-fight press conference what it was like to perform, and win, in front of the tech mogul worth a whopping $166 billion, per Forbes.

Dvalishvili said he and Zuckerberg “became friends on social media,” according to MMA Fighting.

“He’s been supporting me and we send positive messages to each other,” the fighter said.

“He did text me a couple of days ago that he would be at the fights, but he told me don’t tell no one.”

Dvalishvili said he kept the information a secret and that, when he saw him in the arena, he said hello and that it’s “good to see you in person.”

Then, during the fight itself, one in which Dvalishvili won by unanimous decision to advance his pro MMA record to 17 wins (three KOs, one submission, and 13 decisions) against four losses, he said: “During the rounds, he was telling me times, ‘30 seconds left’ — he was coaching me.”

Dvalishvili later added that Zuckerberg “was giving me some tips.”

Zuckerberg was effectively the fourth member of his coaching team, he added.

There was also a viral moment in the fight in which he smiled at Zuckerberg during a chokehold he’d applied on Cejudo.

“The choke was tight, but I got too excited,” Dvalishvili said.

“I was looking at Mark Zuckerberg and I had too much fun. Maybe I should focus to finish.

“You know, I’m just a fighter, I’m free, that’s what you do, that was a fun, good, positive conversation.”

Mark Zuckerberg Was Also Seen Walking a Fighter to the Ring

The interaction with Dvalishvili wasn’t Zuckerberg’s only viral moment from the event.

He was also seen in official UFC training gear while accompanying Alexander Volkanovski to the Octagon, and even shared a hug with the former UFC featherweight king.

Watch their exchange right here:

Volkanovski went on to lose the title match, as Ilia Topuria finished him in the second round with punches to claim the championship belt for himself.

Topuria then maximized his time on the microphone after the fight by challenging Conor McGregor to a fist-fight.

The Meta Boss Is a Renowned UFC Fan

Zuckerberg has long been regarded as a UFC super fan as he rented out the UFC Apex during a Fight Night-branded event for an exclusive viewing, alongside his wife Priscilla Chan, in October 2022, a UFC official confirmed to Heavy ahead of the event at the time.

He’s also been linked with an MMA match of his against Tesla and X owner Elon Musk.

The bout could have been promoted by the UFC boss Dana White, who spoke numerous times about the celebrity contest.

White told TMZ in June 2023 that he spent “an hour and a half on the phone with both of them” and said he found out that “both guys are absolutely dead serious about this.”

White once referred to it as “the biggest fight ever in the history of the world,” according to MMA Fighting in September, before later backtracking and declaring it “probably [would] not” happen.