Israeli Mixed Martial Arts fighter makes his debut
Noad Lahat on how his home country inspires his sport.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship, the largest mixed martial arts organization in the world, has added its second Israeli fighter — previously undefeated Noad “Neo” Lahat, who lost his first fight in a first-round knockout to Brazilian fighter Godofredo Castro. Lahat follows in the footsteps of Israeli Moti “The Hebrew Hammer” Horenstein, who lost both of his UFC bouts in the late 1990s.
Though he lost the fight, Lahat is hopeful that he has a more successful career ahead of him than his predecessor. The 29-year-old fighter came into his UFC debut winning all seven of his previous fights. He is a member of the elite Kickboxing Academy of San Jose, Calif., which features several high-profile trainers and fighters alike.
Lahat says his Israeli heritage is crucial to his sporting career. “Being Israeli means everything to me,” he told a British newspaper. “It dictates the person that I am and the way that I lead my life. Growing up in Israel has shaped the person and the fighter that I am today, and my heart is always in Israel.”
He aims to popularize mixed martial arts, a growing sport among Israelis. “As the only Israeli fighter on the UFC roster I hope that my success will inspire and motivate fighters from my home country,” he said.
Before the fight, Lahat appeared confident and ready to do battle, even cocky. When asked whether he foresaw fighting in UFC so early in his career, he replied, “No, I expected that years ago.” And even after his loss, Lahat appears to be in good spirits and ready for his next fight.
MORE FROM THE GRAPEVINE: