Noad Lahat, the first Israeli to fight in a prestigious Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) mixed martial arts competition, was due to arrive in Israel on Sunday after winning a key fight in San Jose, California.
Lahat's paratroop unit has not been called up for service in Gaza, but he's coming home anyway – just in case.
Saturday's fight in San Jose was crucial for Lahat, who lost his first UFC fight in Brazil four months ago by a knockout. The UFC has the right to cancel his contract after a loss – and could well have done so, had he lost to Steven Siler in San Jose.
But the Israeli featherweight didn't lose. He won a tough, close-fought contest against the experienced Siler by a unanimous decision, thus keeping his career dreams intact.
With the victory, Lahat, 30, improves to his UFC record to 1-1 and 8-1 overall.
After the fight, Lahat took the microphone and addressed the crowd. "Blood should be spilled just here, in the ring," he said. "There is nothing I want more than peace and it's clear that I don't want to fight in the army. But I have no option but to return to defend my family. I have a family under the threat of missiles."
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