Haim Gozali never made it to the UFC. The Israeli mixed martial artist had an unsuccessful spell with Bellator before retiring from the sport last year with a record of 15-6.

But while the current crop of UFC champions might have no idea who he is the 50 year old clearly follows the sport closely.

He posted a photo on Instagram of some missiles which the Israeli military is presumably about to fire at Gaza. Inscribed on the side are the names of UFC fighters Khabib Nurmagomedov, Belal Muhammad, Islam Makhachev and Khamzat Chimaev:


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A post shared by Haim Gozali (@haimgozali)

Constant posting

Numerous UFC fighters including Nurmagomedov, Muhammad, Makhachev and Chimaev as well as Javid Basharat have come out in support of Palestine. Their actions have ranged from posting supportive messages on social media to refusing to celebrate wins in the octagon.

While very few people outside of Israel will know who Gozali is he seems determined to escalate an online conflict that has divided the MMA world. Ariel Helwani has come out in support of Israel with fighters announcing afterwards that they would boycott his show.

In the last three days Gozali has posted 26 times on Instagram. Among the multitude of posts is one calling out Khamzat Chimaev for a submission grappling bout and another of accusing the four UFC fighters of inciting a mob to attack a plan in Dagestan that had arrived from Israel.


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A post shared by Haim Gozali (@haimgozali)

No engagement

Given that all four fighters have much higher profiles and bigger followings they have understandably refused to engage with the retired mixed martial artist. As a result he appears to have decided to ratchet up the rhetoric with this latest publicity stunt guaranteed to cause serious offence.

Gozali might not have a high profile in the MMA world but he seems determined to light the touchpaper during a situation that is already extremely tense. The UFC banned flags for its recent event in the Middle East although the decision was quickly reversed upon returning to the US.

As the war in Gaza rages on more and more people in the fight community are going to want to have their say on it. Few will manage to do so in quite as offensive way as Gozali has though.