Born in Paris, France, Natan Levy moved to Israel when he was only a few months old. Now at the age of 26, Levy is an undefeated MMA fighter splitting his time between Israel and America training to become a world champion. On July 20, he will continue his journey when he takes on Cameron “Showtime” Underhill at LFA 45.
Levy grew up watching Rocky and Bruce Lee which inspired him to train. His dad would also show him K-1 fights and he’d wait months to watch Pride FC events. Initially, he wanted to be a boxer but he couldn’t find a boxing gym in Israel. Instead, he found a karate school and began his training at the age of 15. The Israeli fighter always knew that’s what he wanted to become but didn’t start training until his teenage years because he lacked the maturity to do so.
But when he did start training, he became extremely committed to it. He received his black belt in Japan around 2008/2009. At the age of 19, Levy opened his own dojo and it became a success. But a few years into it, he felt stuck, that he wasn’t growing and by plateauing his success would fade away. So, he made a choice to fly to the Las Vegas and become an MMA fighter.
“I kind of gave up on it, I was kind of like I’m a karate guy not an MMA guy. I got my black and I was in Japan then I opened a dojo in Israel when I was like 19 years old. I had plenty of students and was doing really well. I had a few groups across the country. I would really spend all day teaching and training and it was really like a dream.”
“But something burned in me like I am so young and I am already teaching most of the day and training and everything. But I felt it was like the beginning of hitting a wall, getting to a plateau that I won’t be able to keep climbing like I did and I was going to start falling and I couldn’t and I couldn’t do this at 22. I decided it was now or never and I flew to Vegas.”
Levy has spent several years training with legendary coach Jimmy Gifford whom he met on his trip to the states. During that time, Gifford brought Levy to Syndicate MMA to round out his game. He continually came and went to the United States from Israel to train and fight but not everything went his way, especially when it came to getting fights.
“I can’t describe how huge it is. How much effort was put into it and how much time and how much resources, everything I ever had I put into this. I had to fly into and out of the U.S. because of my visa. So I couldn’t stay too long. For years I would come to Vegas to train, go back to Israel to work, again and again and again. I couldn’t even get amateur fights, no one would fight me. I had guys not showing to weigh ins. I had one guy leaving the locker room right before the fight as I was getting my hands wrapped. “
“So many speed bumps. My coach would tell me if it wasn’t for bad luck you’d have no luck. Every time I flew in and an amateur fight got cancelled and I had to go home without fighting, people would be like “Natan you said you were flying to Vegas to fight, how come you didn’t fight?” It was weird to everybody how I was so unlucky. It turned out for the better. I was super prepared when I had my first fight. And I was super prepared for every other fight.”
For this opportunity, Levy gave up the security of his employment in Israel, he had to rely on others to help run his schools. He also had never trained in MMA before, but after he waited three years for his first fight and he won it by submission in the first round, he knew it was the right decision.
“This was like the big break after it took me three years to get my first amateur fight.”
“The moment I started fighting, things started picking up. Suddenly the whole country, the whole MMA fans and community in Israel was behind me. It picked up so fast, it was crazy.”
That community in Israel is very important to Levy and finds it an important task.
“It means a lot to me cause we’re a nation that always needs to fight and defend itself. Again, a hundred years ago or tens of years ago, Israel and Jewish people are on the defense. There were years when we couldn’t defend ourselves and now when we have a real strong army and we have fighters that fight within Israel and internationally, it shows that we as a people have become stronger and more willing to defend ourselves and we can’t be messed with.”
Because of his love for his country, Levy has developed quite a following both at home and in the States. He said that his pro debut in California made him feel like he was the hometown kid. Now, he will travel to California for a second time to face another native Californian for LFA for his second pro fight.
“I think the Israeli and the Jewish people, are nationally – it’s very important for us, it’s a very important part of our identity. It really strengthens me and helps me when I see all these people come to support.”
What has made the fight between Levy and his opponent Cameron Underhill even more intriguing is that there has been a bit of trash talk between the fighters. Underhill posted a few comments in his story and Levy responded strongly. They have created an America vs. Israel dynamic, which Levy says doesn’t bother him.
“It doesn’t bother me at all, his account is private so many Israeli people who wanted to see who I was fighting started following him. So he started to talk shit in his story and saying to all his Israeli followers, Natan Levy is going to get it.”
“I don’t mind it, it’s funny to me cause I know I’m going to wreck this guy. He can talk shit all you want.
“My last opponent talked shit and he didn’t last two minutes in the cage, it doesn’t mean much to me.”
The matchup itself is intriguing, Underhill is a wrestler with good jiu jitsu and Levy describes himself as a striker and jiu jitsu fighter.
With that said, Levy see’s himself getting a finish in the fight but is in no rush to do so.
“Either a knockout in the second round or a submission in the second or third round.”
“I’m never in a rush to finish a fight. I do like to finish though when I see the right opportunity.”
The Syndicate MMA fighter has been training for this fight with many notable MMA fighters including Adam Aquaviva, Jessica Rose-Clark, Alexa Conners and Joseph Benavidez to name a few. And he knows he is ready for this opportunity.
“I take this life and this career so seriously. I give it everything I got, maximum effort every day to be ready.”
“My goal is to be a world champion.”Follow MyMMANews.com on Social Media