Israeli fighter Noad Lahat claimed his first ever UFC win by defeating Steven Siler on Saturday night in San Jose, California, before returning home on Sunday to make sure he will be available for reserve duty should he be called up due to Operation Protective Edge.
Lahat, who is the UFC’s second Israeli-born fighter, lost his first fight four months ago, suffering a first round TKO against Godofredo Pepey. However, he proved his worth with the win over Siler before returning his focus back to the security situation back home.
The 30-year-old IDF paratrooper claimed he would have dropped everything and returned to Israel had he been called up on reserve duty. However, that was not necessary as his unit has yet to be mobilized, allowing Lahat to complete his mission in San Jose on Saturday before returning to Israel.
“As soon as they call my unit, I’m in,” Lahat said ahead of Saturday’s fight. “I’m going to join my brothers, the same people I served with for years. And there’s no other way for me.
And for me to be here, not at home right now, it’s something that…it’s beyond miserable. To be fighting in sunny California, it’s a horrible feeling.”
Lahat explained what his family in Israel has been going through.
“The whole last month and a half it’s been crazy. My family has about 15 seconds every time an alarm goes off to take shelter from missiles,” he said.
“And for us, it’s not some faraway war on the other side of the world. It’s by my home. I need to go protect my family, protect my country, protect my future.
“It’s more than moral,” he added. “We can’t lose the war.
If we lose there is no hope for me. California is not my home.
I love California, and it’s nice, but it’s not my home. For me, if I want to go back home, I need to protect it.”