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Israeli MMA fighter wins championship against opponent who used Holocaust taunts

After being told he would be burned like Hitler burned the Jews, an Israeli mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter beat his opponent to win the championship.

Mixed martial arts fighter Rafael Aronov won the World Combat Championship this month after his opponent Ilyas Sadykov of Kazakhstan had taunted him on Instagram with Holocaust imagery and terminology according Ynet. They finally faced each other in the welterweight division on March 9. You can watch the bout below.

“While preparing for the fight,” Aronov says, “I started getting messages on Instagram from my opponent, saying things like, ‘Do you like german [sic] music?’ and ‘I will burn you like this guy,’ along with a picture of Hitler. I chose not to react, preferring to respond to [him] in the ring.”

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When they were weighing in, Aronov, a police officer in Beer Sheva, said, “we stood face to face. There was a lot of tension in the air. There was a feeling of ‘bad blood’ between us. The fight began badly for me, I was hit hard and fell to the floor. I recovered fast and managed to bring down my opponent and beat him in a knockout.”

israeli mma

When asked how he felt about his victory, the 28-year-old answered, “I had a crazy sense of satisfaction. I come from a family of Holocaust survivors. I took the antisemitic statements personally, so I had a double victory – a personal one and a victory over antisemitism.”

It was also Aronov’s first championship belt.

In a separate interview on Channel 14, Aronov said that while “trash talk” was common before fights, Sadykov had “crossed the line” by saying that he’d kill him like Hitler had killed the Jews.

“There are lines that you do not cross, and there are things about which there is no forgiveness,” he said.

After the bout, the two shook hands. Although Aronov won by knockout, Sadykov complained on Instagram afterward about the “fake” judges and demanded a rematch in his own country, The Jewish Chronicle reported.

The World Combat Games is an Olympics-recognized, international multi-sport event featuring combat sports and martial arts, ranging from karate, bare-knuckle boxing and wrestling to kickboxing and taekwondo.

In the March event, the first of its kind in Israel, local fighters were matched against opponents from around the world in several combat categories, with thousands in attendance at Tel Aviv.

Watch the bout here:

–Wire services

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