Artem Lobov is a man that likes to keep busy and if things go according to plan, he’d like nothing more than to fight three times in the final three months of the year.
Lobov is coming off the back of a hectic summer where he headlined his first ever UFC fight card against Cub Swanson. “The Russian Hammer” put up a strong showing, but after being defeated via unanimous decision, he quickly found himself jetting off to Las Vegas to train alongside and corner Conor McGregor in his boxing showdown with Floyd Mayweather.
Having spent the majority of the summer honing his boxing skills, Lobov said he’s pleased to be back in Dublin now and getting back to work at SBG.
“It’s been very good being back,” Lobov told MMAUNO.com exclusively this evening. “I enjoyed my time in Vegas a lot, but I really wanted to get back to MMA. I’ve changed things up a little for this camp and I’ve gone a little bit old school and done a lot more sparring in this camp because I missed MMA training so much.
“I wanted to kick people, wrestle and grapple so I’ve been doing as many as four grappling sessions a week since I’ve been back.”
Despite missing the feeling of being able to grapple, wrestle, kick and elbow during his training, Lobov doesn’t regret focusing on improving his boxing skills for an extended time. He went on to explain how the focus helped him make much bigger improvements in his stand-up than he would’ve done had he stuck to his usual training regime.
“To be honest, I think it was very good getting this boxing camp in,” Lobov said. “I really made me realize that it’s hard to improve certain areas when you just train MMA all the time. Let’s say you grapple in the morning and you see a few pointers and you think about them throughout the day, if you then go and box during the evening, your mind is now focused on that and you don’t think about what you learned in the morning.
“When training is like that you’re just maintaining your level and slowly progressing, but when you just focus on the one discipline, the progress is huge because you can give it all your focus. You can think about it all day and if you do that for an extend number of days and weeks, you can make big improvements. I’m going to take this learning away from me and if I need to focus on something particular in the future, I’m going to be focus on just improving that.”
Despite being in camp with McGregor for the majority of the summer, there have been no shortage of fighters calling Lobov out. The man who ended up getting the fight was Andre Fili and the two meet UFC Fight Night Gdansk on October 21. Lobov explained that he would’ve been happy fighting any one of the people who requested the fight.
“It wasn’t my call to fight Fili, it was just the name I was sent,” Lobov said. “As always I’m never going to turn anyone down. It’s always a yes from me.
“I don’t get into negotiations when it comes down to who I fight.”
“I always have suggestions and I want to fight the best guys, but whoever it is they send me I happy to fight them. I normally don’t even look at the f***ing name. I get the paper, sign it and just sent it back.”
One of the men calling for a fight with Lobov was former ACB featherweight champion, Zabit Magomedshapirov. Lobov said that he took notice of his callout after he won his debut fight last month and that he would happily fight in him if his next opponent falls out.
“He’s the guy that I want after Fili,” Lobov said. “I think he’s got a fight lined up in Shanghai now, in China, but I believe the UFC have given him another newcomer again. Why is he getting another newcomer? I thought he was some s*** hot new prospect?
“I’ll see what goes on there, but trust me, I’ll be ready to go again in November. I should be on the card. Give that no name newcomer someone else and give me the fight. He called me out and I called him out, so why not make the fight happen? It plays perfectly into my hands because I’m getting ready for Fili who’s a similar body type and fighter to this guy. It’s perfect me. I’ll knockout Fili and go after him.”
Fighting in Gdansk, Poland is something that Lobov is relishing. Having fought there twice previously, he’s no stranger to the Polish MMA community and he was quick to point out he was once considered one of the best fighters in the country there.
“I’m excited about fighting in Poland because I’ve fought there many times before,” Lobov said. “I’ve also fought lots of Polish guys outside of Poland, mainly because I couldn’t find any fighters in the UK or Ireland to take a fight with me.
“They wanted a top guy to come and fight their top guys so they got me in there.”
“Not many people know this, but I was once ranked the top of the weight class in both lightweight and featherweight so that shows how much I challenged myself.”
Lobov will be returning to the UFC Octagon for the first time in nearly six months. Despite the layoff, Lobov says he took a lot from his fight with Swanson and that he’s looking forward to showing everyone the improvements that he’s made.
“The main thing I learned from that fight was that I need a lot more work and that I need to do more,” Lobov said. “I know that I’ve done more and I’m going to bring that work into the next fight. When you look back at it you will see that it wasn’t so much the technical side. When you look at the first round I was having success both on the feet and in the grappling exchanges.
“I made a tactical error though and he took my back and took a lot of energy out of me trying to fight out of it. My energy levels after that just weren’t the same and Cub is a master at keeping a high pace and I couldn’t keep up. Those were things that I had to address and I feel that I’ve done that.
“In terms of my skillset, I was happy with the way I fared against him.”
With the talking now done, Lobov is just looking forward to his fight with Fili on October 21. The rest of the year is yet to play out, but if Lobov has his way, he’s going to be a very busy man.
“The perfect end of the year?
“Spark Fili, get the Magomedshapirov fight, knock him out, put him back in his box and then fight at UFC 219 at the end of the year.
“That looks good to me. If it was up to me I’m fighting on all those cards, but of course it’s not. I’m just going to be waiting by the phone, but first of all, I’m taking Fili out.”