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Noad Lahat doesn’t care Bantamweight belt is not at stake, can’t wait to create ‘cage chaos’ with Darrion Caldwell

Noad Lahat interview

Bellator 204 comes to Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D., this weekend (Fri., Aug. 17, 2018), featuring Bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell (12-1) facing off with Featherweight submission stylist Noad Lahat (12-3) in the Paramount Network-televised event.

“Hold on,” says you the reader, “what does that mean for Caldwell’s world title?” The simple answer is it’s not on the line this Friday. Caldwell is coming up in weight for a non-title fight and, presumably, if he’s successful at 145 pounds he may look to become a two-weight division champion. Lahat isn’t going to roll over and play dead for him, though. You wouldn’t expect that from someone who was in the Israeli Defense Force at the same time he was an active Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter, anyway. Although it was certainly a surprise when Lahat and UFC cut ties, he has gone on to success in Bellator since, winning three of his last four fights since 2016.

Lahat recently spoke with about his upcoming fight with “The Wolf” and how eager he was to take the bout when he got the call.

“My response was, ‘Fuck yeah!’ That’s what I texted back to Mike Kogan. I don’t care about the title, I care about the fighter. He’s a champion whether the belt’s on the line or not and to me that’s exciting. Fighting the champion? Yeah, shit! That’s what I want as a fighter, fighting the top guys, you know? And he’s a top fighter, a true champion, and he’s a good athlete and I’m very excited about that.”

Leading up to the fight this weekend, Caldwell has branded himself “undefeated at Featherweight” based on his record before becoming the Bantamweight champion. Lahat is unfazed by the semantics ...

“(*chuckling*) I don’t care. I was undefeated at some point, I think. Everybody was undefeated at some point, right? When you say that, ‘You’re undefeated, you’re undefeated,’ okay well that’s why I want to fight him — because he’s tough, because he’s skilled, because he’s choking people fast, and because he’s dominant with his wrestling. That’s why I want to fight him. I spent seven years at AKA — I’m not afraid of wrestling.”

There’s definitely no shortage of wrestlers at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA). From Daniel Cormier to Khabib Nurmagomedov to Cain Velasquez, the list goes on and on. That’s just one reason Lahat says he’s ready for the champion.

“Okay, this is not a wrestling match -- it’s fighting. Like I truly believe that he’s a better wrestler than me, yeah, but I’m a FIGHTER. If we put the singlet (on) and wrestle, yeah, he’d probably would beat me. I don’t even know the rules of wrestling. But, in fighting, fighting’s different. And yeah that’s his advantage in the fight. I think his explosiveness I’ll probably see, too. I think those are his attributes, yeah he’s right.”

Beyond those attributes, Lahat also sees flaws in Caldwell that he plans to exploit inside the cage.

“He don’t like to stand up, so I know he’s gonna engage in his wrestling right away. And the fact that he’s talking about his wrestling, that’s made that (clear) that’s his game. It’s no secret that’s what he wants to do. That’s why I find this fight exciting because we both like to do that. We both like to put the other guy on his butt and try to choke him. I think we both want to do the same thing but we use different tools to do that. I use judo, my jiu-jitsu, my grappling, he uses wrestling. That’s why I find it exciting.”

If both men have a similar style, but different tools to apply it with, what happens when the toolbox is thrown away? What if Caldwell gets a takedown and puts Lahat on his butt before he can do the same?

“I can fight off my back -- I don’t think he can. He says (I can’t) because I’ve never been on my back in (a) fight, so he hasn’t seen that from me. I don’t do defense. (*chuckling*) So yeah, I think his ability off his back is probably to get back up. My ability off my back, I have the ability to get up and to finish him. So again we use different styles. He’s on his back, he’s wrestling to turn to his feet and get up. I can do that, but I can also throw another submission off the bottom.”

Lahat is more than ready to put that theory to the test after a full training camp to get ready.

“I think it’s the mashing of two styles that basically want to do the same thing and that’s why I’m excited about it. I think it’s a cool match up. I trained hard for this fight, and I’m sure he did since he’s the champion. I’m talking to you and I’m getting goosebumps.”

The only thing that may not be thrilling to Lahat is that he’s taking the fight with Darrion Caldwell in a different “S.D.” than the one he had in mind.

“Too bad it’s all the way in South Dakota, because when they texted me the fight and said ‘S.D.’ I thought it was even cooler because I’m gonna fight him in San Diego, it’s just a few hours from me and I was like, ‘Fuck yeah, yeah that’s awesome! I got a lot of friends there, a lot of Israelis in San Diego, I’ll be chill and then I got the contract and it said ‘South Dakota’ so that’s a little bummer. The flight there is expensive, but I haven’t been there so after the fight, go around the city, look for a good pizza joint or something, and have fun.”

“Fun” is something that Lahat is promising all the fans in Sioux Falls will have during their fight, too.

“It’s fighting. I go there with chaos in my heart and I bring it to the fucking cage. Win or lose I always bring it. Fuck it. Better not (miss it). It’ll be fireworks.”

Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Caldwell vs. Lahat” resides here at MMA Mania all week long.

To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.

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