Marine veteran goes viral for capturing alligator with his bare hands

Screenshot from the video below

A Marine veteran and mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter recently became the latest “Florida Man” sensation, after a video showing him capturing an alligator with his bare hands went viral.

The white-knuckle gator wrestling event unfolded in Jacksonville’s Northside area, where a shopping plaza became the unlikely stage for the alligator wrangling spectacle.

The man at the center of the action, Matthew Dragich, is no stranger to handling dangerous situations. As a licensed alligator trapper, experienced MMA fighter, veteran, and leader of a nonprofit organization in Florida, Dragich was well-equipped to take on the challenge.

When he received the call about the gator, Dragich was enjoying a local hockey game with his family.

According to Dragich, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office contacted him with an urgent request for assistance. An 8-foot alligator was roaming near Edgewood Avenue W and Vernon Road, posing a potential threat to the public. Despite being caught off guard, Dragich knew he had to act quickly.

“I was at a hockey game in downtown Jacksonville with my family when I got the call from the sheriff’s office,” Dragich explained to News4JAX. “It was only five minutes away, so I left the game, caught the alligator, and then went back to the game!” His rapid response and unconventional technique captured the attention of the entire community.

When Dragich arrived on the scene, he realized he didn’t have his standard trapping equipment. However, rather than wasting time fetching his gear, he chose the rawest and most primal technique: using hands and feet to subdue the alligator.

The video shows the Marine vet carefully approaching the reptile before pouncing to gain control over its powerful tail.

The risky maneuver paid off. Within moments, Dragich had the alligator secured, avoiding injury to himself or anyone else nearby. This unexpected method of capture garnered significant attention on social media, with many praising his bravery and resourcefulness.

The incident occurred at the start of April, a time when alligators become more active due to the beginning of mating season. It’s not uncommon to hear about gators showing up in unexpected places during this time, but a bare-handed capture by an MMA fighter was certainly a twist no one saw coming.

Dragich’s quick thinking and unique skill set transformed a potentially dangerous situation into a story that quickly spread across the internet. His ability to remain calm under pressure and take control of the situation without specialized equipment was commendable.

After putting the alligator in its place, Dragich handed it over to the appropriate authorities, ensuring the animal would be safely relocated.

The incident serves as a reminder of the importance of swift action and expertise in handling wild animals, especially in Florida, where alligators are a common sight.

With the alligator safely removed, Dragich returned to the hockey game to rejoin his family, proving that one’s duties never cease— be they to one’s country, community, or family.

Carry on, Florida man.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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