Noad Lahat is a UFC veteran making his Bellator MMA debut this Friday Night at Bellator 164, but he believes that the sport would not be that popular in his native country if it wasn’t for him.
“I think a lot of the fan base [in Israel] is new. I think a lot of the fans know MMA either through me or because of me,” Lahat told Sherdog. “That’s what’s exciting about Bellator. Because the time zone is different, most main events fight around 3, 4, 5 a.m. in Israel. You have to be really hardcore to stay up and watch it. Now they’re doing a big event in Israel, in a big city. It’s pretty cool. I don’t know what most people are expecting but they’re gonna get a good fight. I hope they get hooked and next time they come it’s gonna be even bigger.”
Lahat said that despite his run in the world's biggest MMA promotion, the UFC, Viacom-owned Bellator feels more like home.
“For me as a fighter, I think I get to express myself more with Bellator. I can wear whatever I want to. I can make money outside fighting with sponsors if I want to. I love that,” he said. “It’s always been about the fighter, it’s never been about the organization….I really appreciate that.”
While Lahat’s time in the UFC did not go the way he dreamed it would, he has a set of goals that he wants to accomplish for a successful run in Bellator MMA.
“I’ve said it a few times: Win fights and make money. Have fun and make money. That’s the goal,” Lahat said. “I’m in the sport because I love it. But now at my age, I’m not 20 anymore and I have family, so it’s also to make money. If I can get those two by Bellator, I’ll be more than happy.”
Bellator 164 takes place on Thursday, November 10 from the Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv, Israel with Andrey Koreshkov and Douglas Lima headlining. The event will air via tape delay on Friday, November 11 on Spike TV, Fightful will be providing a live viewing party for the event on Friday Night.