Artem Lobov is a man whose fortunes have changed somewhat in recent times. The SBG product – after a good showing in last year’s Ultimate Fighter – went 0-2 in his first pair of bouts in the UFC and it seemed like he was destined to be cut before he would reach his third fight.
However, after a make-or-break match-up at UFC 205 against Cesar Gracie fighter and promotional newcomer Chris Avila, Lobov was back in the win column and from there was scheduled to hold a main card slot in the UFC’s return t0 Northern Ireland two weeks ago.
Teturo Ishihara was the opponent selected and despite the hype surrounding the charismatic Japan-born prospect, Lobov rose to the occasion and scored himself a dominant, unanimous decision victory.
With his UFC record now sitting at an even 2-2, the ever willing and game Lobov will be looking to bag himself another opponent sooner rather than later, unlike his long-term teammate, and the UFC’s lightweight champion, Conor McGregor.
The Dubliner, who has been both a friend and training partner to Lobov for years now, made history at UFC 205 last month when he became the first fighter in the organisation’s history to hold two belts in two different weight classes simultaneously. He defeated then champ Eddie Alvarez with a near-flawless performance, and for many proved himself beyond all reasonable doubt to be one of the most lethal strikers in the game.
Lobov, who would know the capabilities of McGregor better than anybody, spoke to Themaclife.com recently about his own experiences with his sparring partner’s power as well as his views on some of the rumours surrounding him.
“When I was watching the [McGregor/Alvarez] fight I knew it was a wrap. Alvarez spoke about how he didn’t implement his game plan. No, you did. This is something when you fight Conor, he shuts your game down. He’s the predator and you feel like the prey. He shuts you down. He paralyses you. Any move you make, he is landing and hurting you. You don’t even want to move. You’re just in survival mode and that’s exactly what happened to Eddie Alvarez.”
Eddie Alvarez – in his interviews post-fight – seemed to reflect heavily on his own mistakes inside the octagon after all was said and done. Indeed, he took nothing away from the Irishman but still, the general trend in his analysis of the contest seemed to mainly surround his in-octagon decision to fight outside of his own game plan, citing the speed of McGregor as something that distracted him early.
Conor recorded three knockdowns in the first round of his match-up with Alvarez, and though he could not get himself the first round finish he had promised to his fans, he still managed to shut the Philadelphia brawler’s game down for the most part and never looked under any real threat throughout the duration of the fight.
“[His power] is all new to them now and they’re starting to believe but I have been saying this for years,” Lobov continued.
“I honestly don’t remember ever being hurt by anyone other than Conor. It probably has happened in training or a fight but I don’t remember any. The only times I do remember getting hurt is by Conor. I remember most of them and it’s happened many, many, many times.”
Lobov is known as a well travelled veteran at this stage. The story of his career so far is perhaps not one reflected in his record (13-12), but even at that he has been in enough wars and taken enough damage over the years to know a good punch when he sees one and based on everything McGregor has shown us so far, there’s no valid reason to doubt the legitimacy of his left hand at this stage.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena