Artem Lobov: Conor will fight the winner of Tony vs Khabib

Announced earlier this week, Lobov (13-14-1-1) will meet Alex Caceres (13-11) at UFC 223 on April 7th in a fight that has the potential to light up the Brooklyn card. Following a loss last October, the SBG featherweight has been itching to return to action and, with a date set, is looking to redeem himself in New York.

Lobov joined Niall McGrath on this week’s Talking Brawls podcast and revealed he was already in camp before news of the UFC 223 bout with Caceres.

“I’m definitely excited for this one,” Lobov beamed. “It’s a big fight on a big card. I was already in camp and was aiming to fight on UFC London as it would’ve been nice to fight on St. Patrick’s Day, but things change and New York is fitting as well. There’s a big Irish and Russian community in New York, so it suits me very well.”

Whilst having a mixed bag of results in the UFC, Lobov has had trouble finding matchups. From sure-fire fights falling through to late changes and rumoured bouts never coming to fruition, Artem feels its part and parcel of the fight game.

“This game is weird,” the Russian began. “It always seems like people want to fight, but I guess when you dig deep into it, the messages of offers don’t get responded to. You’ve seen it recently with Zabid [Magomedsharipov], people say they want the fight then turn us down and that’s exactly what’s going on.

“Everybody thinks everyone in the UFC will fight anyone and that’s not always the case, so imagine how things are outside of the UFC. If on the biggest stage where the money is very good you can’t get a fight, imagine what it’s like to get a match where the fight is hard and the money is small. I’ve been speaking about this my entire career as I’ve always been the guy willing to step up and take on a challenge.

“Everyone likes to say they’re the best and that they’ll fight anyone, but when it comes down to facts, very few are.”

In the aforementioned mixture of results, last time around Lobov found himself on the losing end of an unanimous decision to Andre Fili (18-5). After a flush start, Lobov’s mind went into auto-pilot. Trying to keep it in true Lobov battle fashion, risks were taken in which the latter relied on strengths preferred over Artem’s style, resulting in earning the nod from the judges.

Upon review, Artem takes the result in his stride, allowing him focus points to improve ahead of April’s clash.

“I felt good in the first round,” the 145-pounder told. “Maybe a little too good. I felt very relaxed. He threw his shots and I remember he couldn’t take me down and was failing with his attempts when I was pressuring him. I got a little too comfortable and missed that headkick which, in most cases, would’ve ended it. Afterwards my head wasn’t 100% there anymore. It took me a while to get back into it as it took a lot out of me.

“My reactions weren’t as strong as they were earlier in the fight, so he managed to take me down and held me there. I got up a few times, but he his takedowns scored enough points. He was holding me down for dear life – he did nothing but that.

“I’m not trying to saying anything bad about him, he’s a mixed martial artist and a strong wrestler. He got the win, but I felt he became afraid to engage after I recovered from his head kick which was his best shot. His wrestling won him the fight and I learned a lesson for the future.

One of big talking points of April’s collision between Lobov and Caceres is around the potential smart booking of the bout; that being will Conor McGregor be appearing in the corner of the former on the same night that Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov compete for an opportunity at his lightweight gold – should the title situation be clarified.

In Lobov’s mind, McGregor is still very much champion at 155lbs and feels Conor will be the next fight for the successful contender.

“It’s still a good bit of time away,” Artem explained. “Conor has always supported me and is always there with me. If something comes where he has to miss my fight, it’s all good as I know I have his support. I guess it’s a little too soon to say whether he’ll be there or not, but it always means a lot to see him there. If he is able to be there, I know he’ll show up.

“There’s no question about it; Conor wants to fight. He is a fighter. There are very few true fighters out there and he is one of the few. He’s the lightweight champion and he, of course, will be defending that belt at some point. I like the way it’s playing out right now in the meantime, with Tony and Khabib fighting for the interim title.

“Conor is still the champion. Has anybody beaten him for that belt? No, so he is still the champion. That’s the way it works. You have to beat the champion to be the champion and I haven’t seen anybody beat Conor.

“I think he fights the winner of Tony and Khabib,” Artem revealed. “Right now there’s two clear challengers. You cannot deny Tony, he’s done a lot in this sport, but so has Khabib. He has been on a good run too. Whoever wins will be the true challenger to fight Conor when he comes back. Whichever way it goes it will be historic.”

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Niall McGrath and Petesy Carroll review UFC 221, talk UFC Austin, Joao Carvalho inquest, John Kavanagh’s comments on potential May/Mac part 2, UFC MW division, your questions and loads more.

Artem Lobov and Frans Mlambo also joined this week’s show.

  • Frans Mlambo joins the show at approx 30 minutes in
  • Artem Lobov joins the show at approx 1 hour 9 minutes in