Orthodox Jewish rabbi Yossi Eilfort recently won his first MMA fight by a second-round TKO in Hollywood, California.
Eilfort studied the Israeli Krav Maga martial art for 12 years, and then trained in MMA for six months prior to his first fight. He called his involvement in amateur MMA a physical, mental, and emotional challenge. “If were not challenging ourselves, then we’re wasting time,” he said.
As the TabletMag website observed, “Rabbi Yossi Eilfort isn’t really all that different from other young, Orthodox rabbis. The 22-year-old goes to shul, wears a kippah, and observes the Sabbath. Oh, and he’s a Mixed Martial Arts fighter.”
According to Fox Sports, “Eilfort… trained just about every day while juggling his duties at the synagogue. He even trained on Friday mornings, but had to skip his last few days of preparation before the fight to observe the Shabbat”
Eilfort’s MMA trainer Thierry Sokoudjou said “I never knew a rabbi could fight or be interested in fighting” instead of preaching peace. The trainer joked that he needs to give Eilfort a “kill pill” because the rabbi is too nice to opponents in the ring.
After the victorious bout at Mansion Fights, a friend also told the rabbi that he was way too nice to the other fighter and could have taken him out earlier. Eilfort admitted that he was uncomfortable actually hitting someone, and that in the fight, he stopped short of landing blows with full force. “I’m making sure not to hit him in the face. I’m hitting him on the side of the head, and I’m not striking as hard as I could.”
Eilfort has aspirations to become a police chaplain, and also to encourage physical fitness and self defense in the orthodox Jewish community.
Rabbi Yossi Eilfort’s next MMA fight is scheduled for tomorrow night in Thousand Oaks, California.