Israeli UFC Fighter Natan Levy discusses career, Israeli mindset and more

Israeli Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter Natan Levy (6-0-0) will make his UFC debut against Mexico’s Rafa Garcia (11-2-0) on November 20th, 2021.

 Natan Levy training (photo credit: VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
Natan Levy training
(photo credit: VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Natan Levy is a 30-year-old MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter who fights out of Tel Aviv, Israel. Levy, who is 6-0-0 (six wins, zero ties/losses) in his MMA career, will fight this Saturday, November 20th, in UFC Fight Night 198: Vieira vs. Tate.

In an interview with MMA reporter Ike Feldman on his YouTube channel “IkeTagon” (a play on the ‘octagon’, which is the name of the fighting ring in MMA fights) ahead of his UFC debut, Levy spoke about his fighting career, training habits, and his Israeli heritage. The UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) is the most popular MMA promotion in the world.

Below is a transcript of the interview: 

 Natan Levy  (credit: VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS) Natan Levy (credit: VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

How’s life been since your last fight, a third-round Arm-Triangle Choke Submission?

I've gotten a massive amount of support from our people from around the world from Israel, it feels great. The only bad part is that I was inactive this year… I was supposed to fight in April but I got hurt. It's a full year without fighting, but I’ve gotten much better since the last time people saw me on screen.

What would you say you’ve improved the most?

I think a big part of it is I used to fight at 145lb (Featherweight division) and now I'm at 155lb (lightweight). At first, it was a matter of not having to cut as much weight… but now I feel a lot stronger, a lot more durable.

Do you drink anything? Do you eat pizza? Take time off? Explain your (training) lifestyle.

I train every week… 6 days a week at least, sometimes 7 days. I’m always in shape and always ready to go. I’m a lifelong martial artist and I always want to learn more so for me it's crazy if someone wins a fight and then they don't train for a couple of months because they don't have another fight… I don’t think that's the champions mentality… that's not an athlete's lifestyle. Not training for 2 or 3 months? What are you talking about?

You’re undefeated, got a big fight coming up, what spurred you into martial arts (MMA)?

I was doing a lot of karate training, I started believing that what I do is the best… fights were not very available (to watch) so I kind of fell off watching the fights. After I came back from Okinawa (Japan) and I got my black belt in Karate…

Can I stop you there? I heard you went to Japan, that's pretty amazing! How was that experience?… you were in Japan training Karate.

Yeah it was cool… It was maybe the hardest time of my life but it's what made me mature the most and grow up, get better and understand what hardship (is). I didn't have money there, I was a kid, ran out of money pretty fast and then I had to survive and train three, four, five times a day, eating a bowl or a couple of bowls of rice a day, so that’s when I learned what’s hunger and what’s hardship.”

The Israeli mentality, the people, you guys are just mentally bulletproof, so guys are so strong mentally, do you believe this gives you an edge over your opponents? And have you been a light for younger Israeli kids who may want to join fighting?

Of course something is different. Having missiles sometimes go over our home, it kind of becomes normal. Like it doesn't happen every day, but you don't know a different lifestyle. When I was in Japan I told the teacher “would you come to Israel one day and do a seminar?” and he was like “Oh no it’s very dangerous” and we’re like ‘what’s dangerous?’ and he said “War”... but here I am so you can live through it. For us its normal.

You were born in Paris?

Yes.

After you get the win in Vegas on November 20... after you fight in Israel, would France be your third favorite place to fight?

I'd love to fight in Asia. I’d love to go back to a (fight) card in Japan… that would be a big circle for me, you know? 

Do you feel like there’s a lot of pressure representing Israel?

Yea, there is a ton of pressure. But, I thrive under pressure.

Natan Levy (6-0-0) will make his UFC debut against Mexico’s Rafa Garcia (11-2-0) on November 20th, 2021 at the UFC Apex facility in Enterprise, Nevada. The fight is available live on ESPN+.