Inside Mac Mansion with Artem Lobov

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Peter Carroll spent a week at the Mac Mansion in the lead up to Conor McGregor UFC 189 title shot against Jose Aldo

Artem Lobov is one of the first names you can guarantee that will be part of Conor McGregor’s team for any training camp. His primary sparring partner, Lobov has travelled all over the world with the Irish featherweight on his ascent over the last two years.

Although ‘The Russian Hammer’ is widely regarded for his fighting skills, he and Owen Roddy fancied themselves as a pair of detectives in the first couple of weeks of the ‘Mac Mansion’ household. On a leisurely stroll home one evening, something just didn’t sit right with the SBG duo.

“There was a bit of a strange incident a few days ago,” explained Lobov. “Roddy and I took a walk up to the shops and when we were walking back we just saw this small, random, black bag. This place we’re living in is so clean, everything is so perfect and this bag just looked odd.

“Immediately we thought it was a bag of drugs. It just looked wrong where it was. Roddy thought it was drugs too and I figured I’d take his word for it – the guy is from Ballymun! I thought he would know.

“So he picked it up and he was feeling around the bag. He was inspecting it and he turns to me and says – ‘ yeah, definitely drugs.’ Next thing we did was open it, and it turned out to be dog poo. I think I can still smell it.”

Lobov tried out for the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter before he took up his residency. Although he has yet to hear if he has been successful in his pursuit of the reality TV series, the SBG fighter described the tryout process he went through.

“We went in and we did about 90 seconds of rolling and then another little bit on the pads – it was nothing serious. To be honest, it’s definitely not enough time to see how good of a fighter you are. It’s more like they’re trying to find out if you can hold your own. They can already see from your record what kind of a fighter you are.

“I have heard that the pad work can be a bit tricky but I kind of just said it to the guy before we started. I said ‘let’s keep it simple, let’s throw out some simple combinations’, so it was fine. My main goal during that part of it was to show the guys that I have a lot of power and I think I got my message across.

“The standard was really good, there were lots of people there to try out. I think there were about 600 people trying out for my weight category. I tried out at 155. I think the usual procedure is to try out at a weight class heavier than usual, because if you do make it into the house you won’t have to struggle to make weight for each fight.

“As far as how I thought I got on, they don’t really tell you how you did or anything like that, so it’s all up in the air. They put all of the people through the same tests and then they tell everyone the same thing – ‘if we want you we call you’ – so that’s it.

“There was definitely a few guys sizing people up. There were just so many different types of people. Some guys go crazy, then some were more relaxed but most of the guys were pretty intense to be honest. I kept calm, it’s always been a case of if it happens it happens with me. I had the bigger picture in mind, I knew I had this training camp with Conor and I knew I had to be fit for that. Getting injured was the last thing on my agenda.”

The Russian also highlighted the advantages of training in Las Vegas for McGregor’s UFC 189 date if he does get the nod to take up a place in the TUF house.

“I think this camp will stand to me if I get the call-up for the show,” he agreed. “Obviously being out here in Vegas getting used to the climate and getting used to the time difference, it should definitely give me an advantage if I get the call. Every time I get out here I feel like it takes me a few weeks to acclimatize to the weather, the air is just so dry.

“Every morning you wake up feeling dehydrated, it really does take a while to get used to it. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t be able to just get here and fight right away. But definitely, if I got the choice to come out here and adjust, I would definitely do it.”

Such is Lobov’s dedication to McGregor that he insisted he would have given up his place in TUF had it been offered to him during the UFC 189 training camp.

“The world title is so important for the whole team. For me, as his sparring partner, his teammate and his friend, it would be unbelievable to be part of this and to help him in whatever way I can. If it meant me skipping TUF then so be it. I know that helping him get that belt is going to open up a lot of doors for me as well.

On the subject of his notorious teammate, Lobov outlined what separates the Dublin knockout artist from the rest of field.

“He looks great and that’s exactly what I expected. I can remember when Conor first came back from his knee surgery he looked better than ever. I literally thought he had been sparring in the basement or something when nobody had been watching him, he looked that good!” he laughed.

“He was literally better than he was before the surgery which was unbelievable. The common belief is that you need to train and you need to spar to get better, but there was Conor turning all of them beliefs into nothing.

“With Conor, nobody knows what he is going to throw, even he doesn’t know what he’s going to throw. He is never getting ready for something in particular, he is always trying to prepare himself for anything and everything. He will feel it in the moment, and that’s a huge problem for his opponents.

“The difference between Conor and his opponents is, where Conor is going off a feeling, they’re going off drilling. When you drill something, if you happen to be faster and stronger than them, you win every time. Someone that’s just going off feeling is very hard to predict, and I think that will be the big difference on July 11.”

Finally. Lobov commented on how the rest of 2015 will pan out for him, McGregor and the Mac Mansion crew.

“I don’t visualize anything. Sometime I think things out, like I’ll say ‘maybe by the end of the year this will happen’, but then I’ll go on and surpass all of my expectations. The last two years have been crazy since Conor got into the UFC, it’s been amazing to see the growth of the sport. Really, it’s unbelievable. When he gets the belt, I imagine it will be even crazier. To be honest I don’t know what to expect, but I do expect good things for all of us.”

@PetesyCarroll

Check out all the editions of Inside Mac Mansion here

Peter Carroll is Severe MMA's lead feature writer. He has been featured in many top publications and some rubbish ones too. He also writes for the Irish Daily Mirror and Vice's Fightland.