Noad Lahat was no doubt in a fight against Steven Siler at UFC on FOX 12, but when he returns to his native country at some point on Sunday night, he will be taking part in a battle that is much more serious.
Lahat, 30, will put his mixed martial arts (MMA) career on hold when he rejoins the Israeli Army in the conflict with Hamas militants in the Gaza strip.
On the Saturday afternoon (July 26, 2014) Fight Pass prelims in San Jose, Calif., Lahat put forth a solid performance in the first two rounds and survived a third-round surge by Siler to receive a 29-28 score from all three judges for the unanimous decision victory.
Lahat put together some very nice throws and trips for takedowns early on, and late in the second round he nearly put Siler away with some impressive grappling. After an exciting transition where Lahat tried to take Siler's back for a rear-naked choke, he appeared to be too high and was slipping off him. That's when he rolled his opponent and immediately switched to a triangle choke, before rolling into mount as the round came to a close.
Siler showed great resiliency and was able to survive the submission attacks.
The American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) fighter would show some perseverance of his own in the third frame, when Siler took his back and was hunting a rear-naked choke. Siler would also begin to land some good strikes in the round, but Lahat had done enough in the first two frames to earn the decision.
Holding up the Israeli flag after being announced as the victor, Lahat's post-fight interview with Joe Rogan really put things into perspective.
"I'm having fun here. This is fun. This is a job," Lahat told Rogan. "But I'll have nowhere to go back home if I don't go there. If me and my friends, my brothers-in-arms, won't go to defend my country, we'll have nowhere to go. It's something I really don't want to do. I want to stay here and have fun and enjoy the rest of the week after two really tough months, but man, I'm going to have to go, otherwise I'm not going to have a home."
"My mom and dad have 15 seconds to run to get shelter when missiles are falling on them and I'm here in sunny California. I love California, but I need to go and defend my home. As a combat soldier, there's nothing I want more in the world than peace. I don't want to see my younger brother go in the army. I don't want to see me and my other brother going back home on Sunday. I don't want to see that. I don't want to see more killing and more blood the only blood should be in the Octagon."
With the victory, Lahat improves to 1-1 in the UFC and 8-1 overall. For more UFC on FOX 12 results and fallout be sure to check out our "Lawler vs. Brown" live story stream right here.