Throughout his rise to fan-favorite status in the UFC, Artem Lobov always took on big challenges, win or lose.
You need only watch his bout with perennial contender Cub Swanson as proof. It’s a mindset he holds dear, and one he affirmed during a recent interview with The Mac Life’s John Balfe:
“I always seek the highest challenge, the biggest challenge. I always look to truly challenge myself. When I was in the UFC I challenged some of the biggest guys in the world. When I was fighting in Europe I did the same. Anywhere I was, I always seek the hardest challenge. I win some, I lose some but I always take the hardest challenge.”
A Personal Rivalry For Lobov
He’s since moved on to compete in bare-knuckle boxing. Lobov will meet bitter rival Paulie Malignaggi in the main event of this weekend’s Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) 6 from Tampa Bay. Malignaggi recently thanked MMA fans for being ‘so stupid’ that the fight is actually happening.
The former two-division boxing champion thinks Lobov will be an easy rollover in bare-knuckle boxing. Lobov has a similar mindset heading into this weekend, as he claims Malignaggi is not a real challenge. In fact, he insists the trash-talking boxer has no idea what’s in store for him. ‘The Russian Hammer’ believes he’s prepared for a normal boxing fight, which this clearly is not:
“This is not the case this time. This is personal, this is about settling a score, this is about punishing someone that’s done a lot of wrong. Somebody that’s been running his mouth a bit too much, somebody that’s been behaving like an animal, not like a human. Somebody that’s been so disrespectful on so many levels. I have to make this right, that’s what this is about.
“Fighting Paulie Malignaggi in bare-knuckle is not a challenge for me. He hasn’t got a clue what he’s in for here. He’s just preparing for a boxing, twelve-round fight. It’s not that.”
Won’t Change Preparation
Lobov does have the perceived added edge of competing in bare-knuckle boxing once before. He’s coming off a vicious decision win over fellow former UFC fighter Jason Knight at April’s BKFC 5. Yet while Malignaggi obviously provides a different challenge from a pure boxing standpoint, the so-called GOAT Lobov doesn’t think it warrants a new style of training.
He’s simply looking to make Malignaggi pay for his over-the-top trash talk leading up to the grudge match:
“My prep is just like I am doing for every competition, just like I always do because I have a blueprint,” he says. “Why change it? I know exactly how to get ready for a bare-knuckle fight, so I’m keeping that. But when I’m in there with him, that’s when it will change. The intent is different. Normally I’m just there to provide great entertainment for the crowd. I always fight until my last breath of air. I always give everything I have in there but this time it’s a little bit different.
“I want to hurt this guy extra hard. I want to punish this guy extra long. I want to play with this guy as much as I want. I want to get him for everything that he has said. I want to get him for everything that he has done — not just for me, but for everyone around the world.”
Will Lobov’s brawling style prove too much for the finesse-focused Malignaggi at BKFC 6?