Noad Lahat: The first Israeli MMA fighter to battle on Arab soil

Lahat said he is proud to represent his country and isn’t worried if fans don’t cheer for him and he is confident he will win.

NOAD LAHAT: I love Israel (photo credit: COURTESY NOAD LAHAT)
NOAD LAHAT: I love Israel
(photo credit: COURTESY NOAD LAHAT)
On March 20, Noad Lahat says he will become the first Israeli mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter to represent the Holy Land in an Arab country when he takes on Sean Soriano of America in the UAE Warriors event in Abu Dhabi. Lahat, who at 36 years old is 173 centimeters tall and weighs 66 kilograms, has an overall 14-4 record in MMA and has battled in both Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Bellator.
He said he is proud to represent his country and isn’t worried if fans don’t cheer for him and he is confident he will win.
“I got booed in Berlin and in other places so I don’t care,” said Lahat by phone from Las Vegas. “For this fight, I’m proud to make history and I’m gonna win for sure. To have my Israeli flag in a place in the world and fight in a place I never even thought I could even visit is cool.
Lahat, who grew up in the Shomron, said he could have gotten an exemption from the Israeli Army for being a state champion in judo, but wanted to do his duty and became a paratrooper. He said he’s fought in Gaza as well as in the Second Lebanon War and has lost friends along the way who have fallen in battle. Lahat said it is important to fight in the cage and also on TV screens to show that the Israeli Army is a just one.
“I once did an interview where I said I hated to hold the gun and have to fight,” he said. “Then CNN called me and they did not want to hear that Hamas uses their people as human shields. They expected me to bash Israel. I would never do that. I love Israel and I am proud to have done my duty for my country that I love. What I meant was nobody wants to have to be in battle for generations. CNN tried to have me back because they knew they failed but that wasn’t happening.”
He said the experience of the Israeli Defense Forces made him more mature.
“This is not sunny California,” he said. “My brothers, my sisters, my mom – I couldn’t be the only one not to go to the Army. I gave up my Olympic dream to go into the Army but it has to be done for Jews to be safe.”
He is not bringing his wife to the fight on March 20. He said before a previous fight people threw things and called her a Nazi.
THE SPORT is not without serious risk. After one fight, a flying knee resulted in him being knocked out cold.
It’s pretty common,” he said. “Your brain tries to protect you by shutting everything down. You wake up and you’re there but you’re not there. Some 20 minutes later, you’re like, “What happened?”
Lahat said he has been training since he was four.
He does not shy away from politics. On his twitter, he wrote that former US president Barack Obama should give his Nobel Peace Prize to president Donald Trump.
“I stand behind that 100%. My dad came from Yemen and my mom came from Afghanistan. They lived poor in a tent at first. In 1967 my mom had to go digging graves. When my dad went to war in 1973, the fate of the whole country was at risk. I had an easier time. I knew I could die or my friend could die, but the whole country was not at risk. My wish is that my children would grow up in peace and not to have to fight at all.”
He said he’s aware that Trump was criticized for several issues but argues Trump should have gotten credit for the Abraham Accords.
“To have peace with the UAE is a great thing. How can the media barely recognize it? It’s crazy.”
He also said athletes in all sports have the right to speak up about whatever they want and should not be silenced. He said some were in favor of President Joe Biden returning to the nuclear peace deal Obama had with Iran because they hated Trump and not because they knew about Iran.
“That deal is crazy because even if you trust Iran not to build a bomb for 10 years (of which about half have passed), they can build one immediately after. It’s true Trump was a bit of a bully, but people bully others online to think we should automatically believe Iran and wrongly say if you are against the deal you’re against peace. 10 years is a second in the Middle East. Can you imagine if God forbid there was another 9/11 and Iran was nuclear? We can’t take that chance.
“When I was going to school I rode to school in a bulletproof bus,” Lahat said. “We had two Army vehicle escorts and a soldier on the bus with a machine gun. I was in the third grade.”
LAHAT WAS recently released from his Bellator contract and is now a free agent. He said he wouldn’t rule out a return to the UFC. He said on his Instagram people have called him a “Zionist dog” or “child-killer.” He said people will always hate.
MMA fighter and actress Gina Carano was fired off the show The Mandelorian by Disney after she tweeted: “Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors. Even by children. Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different from hating someone for their political views?”
“I think what she said was stupid,” Lahat said. “Both the Left and the Right need to take the Holocaust out of their mouths comparing it to all these things. There was only one Holocaust and it had gas chambers. America is the freest country in the world. Some compare border agents to Nazis. It’s ridiculous. What Gina said was stupid, but I don’t think it was antisemitic. I don’t think she should have been fired.”
Lahat said he keeps his mind clear in the ring.
“But as far as emotions, I come to kill the opponent, not literally, but to win,” he said. “But you have to keep your focus, dismantle the guy and get out. I prefer fights that I can win as soon as possible but my best fights have been the longest and the bloodiest.
He said his best move is the rear naked choke.
What did Lahat’s mother say when he told her he was going to be a fighter?
“She thought I was insane,” he said. “She was like, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ Then she came to one of my fights and she understood it was not like a bar fight.”
He said his parents are supportive but don’t watch his fights.
As for his time in the IDF, he said on the battlefield, you can’t let emotions in. He added that the movie Black Hawk reminded him of Gaza because bullets were flying everywhere.
He said when he was in Gaza, it was very difficult.
“We got bombed a lot,” he said. “But you try not to think about the possibility of dying because you’ll freeze. You try to make jokes, take a picture and call it your last picture.”