UFC fighter Noad Lahat had the worst training camp of his fighting career leading up to his victory over Steven Siler at UFC on FOX 12.
He never got more than two consecutive hours of sleep a night. Yet he showed up at the gym to spar, full-on. His persistence paid off in the form of a unanimous decision victory.
Even in success, the fight, however, was of small consequence to Lahat, and the reason why he had such a horrible camp.
“The last two months, I haven’t slept one full night. I was waking up every hour to check my phone to see if I got messages, see if my family called me,” said Lahat after the fight, touching on the cause of his insomnia.
Lahat is Israeli. While he was in the United States training for the fight with Siler, his family is in his homeland, fighting for survival amidst the latest round of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That weighed heavily both on his heart and his mind as he tried to focus on the fight; a focus that he never realized.
“My grandma, she is more than 80 years old, she had 15 seconds to run to get a shelter,” said Lahat. “My grandma! And I’m here safe? It’s messed up. I should be there helping them.”
Lahat proclaimed that mere hours after winning his fight, he was headed home to Israel to join up with his unit of the Israel Defense Forces. A IDF reservist, Lahat’s old unit was told to be at the ready, and he is not going to let them go into battle without him.
It’s not that he wants to fight, but Lahat realizes that without being prepared for war, there will be no peace.
“You can’t achieve peace without being ready for war,” he said in an interview with CNN on Sunday. “If people are attacking you and they’re not going to stop until you’re dead, then you have to go and fight. There’s no other way.
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“It’s just another round of this ridiculous game,” he continued. “Hamas are shooting at us. We try to respond, but we can’t because most of the world don’t let us finish the job and take Hamas down. So we stop, and then they’re shooting again.”
There is, of course, no guarantee that peace will come. After all, this is latest uproar is but the latest battle in a conflict that has lasted more than half a century. This is a real fight, a fight with bullets and rockets and guns. This is a fight that takes the lives of men, women, and children. It has taken thousands of lives – both Israeli and Palestinian – thus far.
Lahat knows what the cost of this fight could be, much more than the swollen lump beneath his eye on Saturday night, but he will not sit idly by as his grandmother runs for safety.