Even when he doesn’t have an opponent scheduled, Noad Lahat is always getting ready for a fight.
That’s reality when you’re an Israeli-born mixed martial artist who comes from a country seemingly in perpetual conflict and trains in a nation where internal strife appears to be growing daily. Lahat may have made a productive move to the Xtreme Couture gym in Las Vegas, but he is also an active reserve of the Israeli Defense Forces.
Suffice to say, he had a strong reaction to the racially charged “Unite the Right” rally that recently occurred in Charlottesville, Va. and he didn’t pull any punches commenting on the episode:
Lahat returns to action against Henry Corrales in a featherweight bout this Friday at Bellator 182 in Verona, N.Y. He took time to speak to MMA Fighting about the far-right group at the Charlottesville rally who had a violent encounter with counter-protestors on Aug. 12.
“It’s a bunch of losers. I don’t really think I should even f**king waste my time over those f**kers,” said Lahat. “But I’ll tell you what: if any of those f**kers come and do and say whatever they want to say to my face? I’ll kill them right there.
“As Jews, we take this very seriously. Someone having a problem just because my last name is different, just because my belief is different than his? Then f**k him, he doesn’t deserve to f**king breathe.”
This is far from the first time that Lahat has had to deal with hazards beyond those associated with his chosen profession. When he fought for the UFC in Berlin, Germany two years ago, he required added personal security to walk him to the cage due to death threats that he had been receiving at the time because of his Israeli background.
And as a member of the IDF, Lahat is regularly the target of criticism from many sides of the political spectrum, including some who misinterpret his beliefs in surprising ways.
“Usually every time my name pops up on social media, even if you go to Twitter and s**t, I get a lot of anti-Semitic tweets and s**t like that,” said Lahat. “‘Baby killer,’ they call me.
“A few times they called me Nazi — I get a lot of that especially from the far left. I get a lot of that. Like I’m Israeli so I kill babies and I drink their blood and s**t like that. So I usually see more of these tweets from the other side, the left more than the right. I get a lot of of Muslims too, always cursing me, tweeting to my wife, stuff like that. ... It doesn’t bother me at all. It’s just noises.”
If anything, cage fighting is a temporary escape from a real life struggle that has far more serious consequences for Lahat to worry about than a win-loss record.
“For me, fighting in the cage in Bellator is about fun,” said Lahat. “There are things more important than fun… It’s not the other side of the world. When we fight people it’s not a fight over oil or whatever, for us you see it’s about people that passionately want to kill us. There is no other way. So before I’m a fighter, I’m a family man, I need to protect my family, I need to protect my country, and that’s always the number one thing.
“But I don’t think it’s ever hurt my training. Even 2014, when there was big drama and I came back, I couldn’t sleep at night. They told me stay for the fight, you can go tomorrow, it was killing me. I felt like I can’t go and fight, you want me to do this s**t instead? So for me I’m fighting not because I’m an athlete, this is who I am. I’m a fighter and to me, to protect my family, to protect my livelihood, my everything, this is just a way of life.
“It’s hard for — especially here in America, you can say most people are worried about their mortgage and car payments. They’re not worried about missiles, they’re not worried about suicide bombers, they’re not worried about that crazy s**t. So it’s different for us when it’s a time of war, you see the country is empty of men. All the men put on uniforms and all military is the people’s military, it’s everyone. Everyone has to fight because they have to, we don’t have many people. So it’s just a different reality, a different world.”