2016 saw Noad Lahat (10-2) make his Bellator debut home soil in Israel. Noad, a skilled grappler, made short work of opponent Scott Cleve; submitting him with a rear naked choke less than half way through the first round.
This weekend, Noad returns to the cage facing Lloyd Carter, a dangerous striker with an 10-8 record. 175’s main card fight is poised as a classic grappler Vs. striker matchup and we suspect Noad be looking to use his Judo to get the fight to the mat though he says he doesn’t mind where the fight goes.
Ahead of the bout, Lahat filled us in on how the public in Israel have been reacting to the growth of MMA and why he thinks people are intrigued by the sport, even if they don’t particularly care for it. He also explains how being involved in the military helped him in MMA; a sport as much about perspective as it is about building mental fortitude.
The Neversphere: You made your promotional debut with Bellator in late 2016. What pushed you to move to this organisation?
Noad: I got to fight in Israel, I got to keep my sponsors…So I got to fight at home and make more money! [Laughs]
The Neversphere: How was it fighting in your home nation?
Noad: It was amazing. I had the crowd on my side that time and it was awesome. It was amazing.
The Neversphere: I’d like to know a little bit about how the public is reacting to MMA in Israel. Down here in Australia, and in parts of Europe, there’s still a bit of negativity around MMA. How do the public react to MMA in Israel?
Noad: I think in the beginning it was seen from a conservative light but once they got exposed to it – I think they got exposed originally through me – they saw that it’s not two crazy people in the cage trying to kill each other; it’s more. It’s an extreme sport yeah, but it’s still a sport, it has rules and everything. I think that because of how the public was exposed to it, they’ve taken it pretty well.
It is a dangerous sport. We do all the medicals and everything to make sure that everyone is ready to fight. It is a dangerous sport, no doubt about it, but almost every sport is dangerous; people are still watching football…and everybody loves it [laughs]…It is what it is.
People are attracted to the extreme sports, especially fighting. Even if you don’t like it, you’re intrigued by it; you’ll look at it. I really believe that at the end of the day this is the most attractive sport to the spectators.
The Neversphere: It’s by far the rawest form of competition, and you’re right, I think that’s why even people who aren’t fans of the sport will stop and watch if there’s a fight on the TV.
Noad: Yes, and also in other sports it’s much longer – like 90 minutes matches, 40 minutes. With MMA it’s 15 minutes, if you don’t like the fight, you come back in 15 minutes and there’s another one on.
The Neversphere: On March 31st you’ve got Bellator 175. You used to train out of AKA but now you’re training over at Xtreme Couture?
Noad: I was with AKA for seven years, in 2016 I changed my camp from California to Las Vegas, now I’m mainly at Xtreme Couture.
The Neversphere: I also saw on social media that a few days ago you were over at Floyd Mayweather’s gym…
Noad: Yeah, in Las Vegas, there’s a lot of gyms here. I get whatever I can from anybody. If I can get extra boxing over there I do, if I can get more wrestling or Jiu-Jitsu somewhere else, I go there. But mostly my training is at Xtreme Couture.
The Neversphere: It looked like that move payed dividends in your last performance. At 175 you’re facing Lloyd Carter, what do you think of his skill set and how do you think you match up with him?
Noad: From what I’ve watched, I see a tough guy who doesn’t like to go to the ground. He likes to bang and that’s awesome, that means he’s coming to fight. That’s what I like.
The Neversphere: As you said, he’s not much of a ground fighter. I know that you’re very well versed in both Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, so I imagine you’d have a drastic advantage should you take the fight to the mat. Do you have any predictions for this fight?
Noad: Predictions? It’s going to be a hell of a fight [laughs]. I’m coming to fight…I don’t care, wherever we go. I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a boring fight; I’m coming to fight.
If it goes to the ground I can fight there, I can fight in the clinch, I can fight standing up. As long as it’s a good fight that I can have fun in, that’s all I care about.
The Neversphere: You’ve displayed a well-versed arsenal of attacks in your previous fights. I’m wondering if this is in part due to your time in the Israeli military and training in Krav Maga?
Noad: That’s definitely made me tougher. It depends, with Krav Maga, it’s a real fight. There’s no rules, it’s about surviving and fighting with weapons. Maybe technique-wise, not so much but the mental part, that aspect, for sure.
The Neversphere: And what about the military in general, do you feel that’s helped you in MMA?
Noad: Well…the training, maybe not specifically. But you know how to get an ass whopping and keep coming forward. It makes you put things in perspective, because March 31st I’m gonna have fun. At the end of the day I will win but no matter what, I’m going to be able to eat my pizza and drink my beer after. No one will die and I don’t have to bury no body.
Especially because I did it at a young age, it helps you keep your life in perspective. Trouble comes, trouble goes; it helps you focus on the important stuff. The worst thing I’ll lose is maybe my paycheque, nothing more than that.
The Neversphere: At the Neversphere we cover music as well as MMA so I have to ask; what’s your walkout song for Bellator 175 going to be?
Noad: My song will be Jerusalem by Matisyahu, so there is special energy for me. I’m not sure about my opponent; he’s probably not going to get much energy from it.