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UFC Fighter Leaves Behind Octagon To Join Israeli Army

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UFC fighter Cain Velasquez (L) trains with Noad Lahat during a media day workout at American Kickboxing Academy. (credit: Alexis Cuarezma/Getty Images)

UFC fighter Cain Velasquez (L) trains with Noad Lahat during a media day workout at American Kickboxing Academy. (credit: Alexis Cuarezma/Getty Images)

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SAN JOSE, Cali. (CBS Las Vegas) – Fighting is a dangerous sport but Noad Lahat has made a commitment to rejoin his friends with the Israeli army, something that is far more dangerous as Israel battles the Palestinians in Gaza.

Lahat is an Israeli-born fighter and wants to go home and protect his family.

“I need to go home, just the thought of my grandma, she is more than 80 years old and had only 15 seconds to get to a shelter,” Lahat told CNN. “And I’m here safe.  It’s messed up.  I should be there helping them.”

Lahat will still fight Steven Siler on Saturday night in San Jose, but after that he will put his career on hold.

Lahat has already served three-and-a-half years in the army as part of a paratrooper unit. Both his parents are former generals.

“I have to do it morally, I don’t have to do it legally,” he told MMAFighting. “The thing is, the whole last month and a half it’s been crazy.”

Both sides have been striking each other in Gaza and Lahat wants to go and do his part to help his friends and family.

“As soon as they call my unit, I’m in,” Lahat said.  “I’m going to join my brothers, the same people I served with for years. And there’s no other way for me. And for me to be here, not at home right now, it’s something that. It’s beyond miserable. For me to be here and not at home right now not being at home with my people. To be fighting in sunny California, it’s a horrible feeling.”

Lahat says that most people in Israel make a career out of the military.  “When I go back my friends are doctors and lawyers, and when they need us they just call us and we all pack our bags, leave our family, and go fight,” he said.

Lahat has been keeping himself occupied with fighting. “The only time I could take my mind off of that was in the gym sparring,” he says. “Other than that, I am watching news or on the phone with friends and family all the time.  It’s been a hard a camp.”

Lahat is coming off his first loss.  Back in March, he lost to Godofredo Pepey by TKO in the first round. Siler has lost two consecutive fights.

Both fighters need the win, but Lahat hopes he can be victorious being this can be his last UFC fight.

“Usually, if you’re in other countries the Israeli army won’t even call you,” Lahat said.  “But we, our friends, we communicate with each other, and when we got the call right away I got messages to be ready.”

“It’s more than moral. We can’t lose the war. If we lose there is no hope for me. California is not my home. I love California, and it’s nice, but it’s not my home. It’s a great place, but it’s not my place. For me, if I want to go back home, I need to protect it.”

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