UFC to IDF.
UFC fighter Noad Lahat won his mixed martial arts bout in Saturday in San Jose, Calif., and then headed back to Israel to join his army unit for possible or likely deployment to Gaza.
Lahat, 30, is a reserve soldier in the Israeli Defense Forces. He previously served 3-1/2 years on active duty. Military service for high school graduates in mandatory for virtually all citizens of the Jewish state. Afterwards, soldiers have a long-term commitment to the reserves. Two of Lahat’s siblings are currently in the army, and one will enter the service in a few years.
Noad Lahat is 1-1 in the UFC, with an overall MMA record of 8-1.
In a post-fight interview (see embed below), Lahat said it was extremely difficult to concentrate on training for his latest fight given the ongoing conflict in Gaza and concerns for the safety of his family and friends in Israel.
He added about his commitment to defend the country of his birth, according to MMA Mania,
I’m having fun here. This is fun. This is a job. But I’ll have nowhere to go back home if I don’t go there. If me and my friends, my brothers-in-arms, won’t go to defend my country, we’ll have nowhere to go. It’s something I really don’t want to do. I want to stay here and have fun and enjoy the rest of the week after two really tough months, but man, I’m going to have to go, otherwise I’m not going to have a home.”
As far as the thousands of rockets fired on Israeli civilians by Hamas terrorists, which prompted the IDF invasion of Gaza, Lahat explained “As a combat soldier, there’s nothing I want more in the world than peace. I don’t want to see my younger brother go in the army. I don’t want to see me and my other brother going back home on Sunday. I don’t want to see that. I don’t want to see more killing and more blood… the only blood should be in the Octagon.”
The MMA fighter also told CNN “I need to go home because just the thought of my grandma, she’s more than 80 years old and she has 15 seconds to run to get a shelter … and I’m here safe. It’s messed up, it shouldn’t happen. I should be there helping them.”
Lahat is active on Twitter and noted that his support of Israel and the IDF on that platform has resulted in anti-Semitic tweets in response, which unfortunately is far from unusual on social media during this conflict.
My heart is with my brothers going to war in Gaza. And I'm seating here waiting for my call to join them. The good will overcome the evil
— noad lahat (@Neo_MMA) July 18, 2014
Watch the post-fight interview with Noad Lahat: