For Levan Makashvili, training is constant. Not much deters him from his routine.
Not the drought of fights he endured amid a contract controversy in late 2013, not the short notices he's received for three scheduled UFC fights, and not even his upcoming opponent.
"He's not the kind of guy that will take a month off," said Tengo Seppy, Makashvili's translator, manager and trainer at Mutant MMA in Oceanside. "I can't even get him to take time off. Once he gets into the ring, it's just business as usual. He just likes to fight."
And the 26-year-old native of Georgia -- the Eurasian country, not the U.S. state -- is riding that same approach into his June 27 featherweight bout with Hacran Dias at UFC Fight Night 70 in Florida. Lyoto Machida and Yoel Romero head the card.
Makashvili (10-1-0), a champion in Georgia and stateside for Cage Fury FC, defeated Mark Eddiva by split decision on May 16 in his first UFC fight. He took that bout on 10 days' notice. (His first scheduled bout in February, which he accepted on two weeks' notice, was scrapped at weigh-ins when opponent Nik Lentz was too sick to fight.)
His win against Eddiva added substance to Makashvili's claim that no outside forces bother him when he's in the cage, regardless of organization.
"I can fight anything, any style," Makashvili said through Seppy. "Today I may wrestle you, tomorrow I may kick-box you."
That unpredictability resembles the twists and turns that have defined Makashvili's life to this point. He was a freestyle wrestling champion in Georgia, but ended that career to become a "neighborhood tough guy," he says in his fighter bio. He gave MMA a shot against the wishes of his loved ones, including his mother. Just a few weeks later, Makashvili beat a boxer by technical knockout and realized his calling. Now four years into his pro career, his mother still hasn't watched any of his fights.
Makashvili came to New York in January 2013 to train with Seppy, whom he'd previously met in North Carolina when he fought as a fill-in amateur. Makashvili's career hit a roadblock in his first year living in the U.S. after beating Tom English at Ring of Combat in September 2013. Seppy said there was a contract "thing" with "some people involved with us in the past," and that Cage Fury FC "took our word for it."
Makashvili never eased his training. Five months passed in between fights.
He has won four of his five fights since then. He took his one loss, to Alexandre Bezerra, while fighting through a broken thumb and broken foot, and avenged the defeat four months later by unanimous decision.
Now, the Queens resident braves two workouts a day, six days a week at Mutant MMA, devoting his time solely to himself -- not scouting Dias.
That would mean he isn't preparing his way.
Makashvili is one of two New Yorkers scheduled for UFC Fight Night in Hollywood, Florida. Freeport's Eddie Gordon fights Antonio Carlos Junior.
New York remains the only state with a ban on professional MMA, something Makashvili and Seppy don't quite understand.
"It would be much better if it were legal here," Makashvili said. "Not just for myself, it would be for the whole industry and for New York, the sort of finances it could generate."
The bill to legalize the sport rests in the State Assembly and has until the end of the legislative session next week to come to a vote on the Assembly floor.
"Madison Square Garden was built for fighting and MMA has proven that taking less punches is safer than taking a thousand punches a fight," Seppy said. "That's what jellies up the brain."