Gozali father and son at Bellator

In an exclusive interview, MMA star Haim Gozali talks about his next bout in Bellator 234 in Tel Aviv and appearing in the same card as his son Aviv


Haim Gozali believes Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has a bright future in Israel ahead of his final fight at Bellator 234 in Tel Aviv today.

Approaching his 47th birthday, Gozali, a former military police soldier in the IDF, will hang up his gloves after his fight against Artur Pronin to become a Bellator producer.

Pronin goes into the fight with a record of 16 victories and three defeats, but Gozali confidently predicted a fourth loss for his opponent. “It’s going to end on the ground as we’re both ground fighters,” he said. “I don’t do any research on my opponents. My coach will tell me what to do.

Competing in the welterweight section, Gozali will fight on the same bill as his son, Aviv, for the second time.

Lightweight fighter Aviv, 18, holds the record for the fastest ever MMA fight – an 11-second victory in August.

Haim is “proud” of his son’s achievements in the sport so far and says: “We’re a fast family. Maybe I’m going to break my record in Israel this week, too.”

Gozali described MMA as the third biggest sport in Israel, and said: “Only soccer and basketball can bring 9,000 people to an event. MMA continues to grow and we’ve had another three Israeli fighters on Bellator on full contracts this year.

“Bellator 234 is going to be one of the biggest events in Israel. We have 21 fights and it will be a huge.”

“It’s a good start and I believe in two or three years we’ll have 20 or 30 fighters in the world. In Israel, everyone needs to know MMA. It’s about survival and, when you know how to fight, you don’t get into fights.

“I urge parents to send their children to jiu jitsu and karate. It’s good for them to learn how to defend themselves properly.

“I’m still fighting at 46 because of my fans, while most people my age are on the couch.”

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