Rabbi Yossi Eilfort, 22, of Chabad of La Costa, California, recently won his first amateur Mixed Martial Arts bout, San Diego’s Fox News reported on Tuesday. The rabbi said he had previously never hit anyone in his life.
Although not new to martial arts — for 12 years, the young rabbi had been studying Krav Maga, the self-defense system developed by Israel’s Defense Force — he entered his first “octagon” just six months ago via MMA fighter and judo specialist Thierry Sokudju, of Cameroon who trained him at Team Quest Gym, in Encinitas.
Eilfort told Fox News that he wanted the “physical, mental, personal challenge” of MMA, not to hurt people. Of his philosophy, Eilfort said, “I believe if we’re not challenging oursleves, than we’re wasting time.”
His coach said, “I never thought that a rabbi would be interested in fighting. But I was stoked. He never quits.”
Eilfort trained nearly every day while balancing his duties at Chabad of La Costa, Fox News reported. He even trained on Fridays, but had to forego a last round of preparation before his big match to observe the Shabbat.
The bout was at Mansion Fights, in a historic North Hollywood house, where he was dubbed “The Rabbi” on the fight bill. Ominously, Fox News said, before entering the octagon, he watched as a previous fighter was wheeled out on a gurney.
Some 20 friends, family and members of his Chabad congregation came to watch Eilfort swiftly take down his opponent, winning in the second round by technical knock out, or TKO.
“It was very uncomfortable hitting someone,” Eilfort told Fox News. “I actually held back, but I proved what I wanted.”
His next fight will be on January 26, in Thousand Oaks, California.
Watch the Fox News report on Chabad Rabbi Yossi Eilfort’s first MMA bout below: