'Having your hands up doesn't stop you from getting knocked out'

Artem Lobov isn’t going to change his style as he pursues an Ultimate Fighting Championship contract.

Artem Lobov in action against Mehdi Baghdad in the opening episode of The Ultimate Fighter 22.
Artem Lobov in action against Mehdi Baghdad in the opening episode of The Ultimate Fighter 22.
Image: Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC

ARTEM LOBOV SAYS he won’t abandon the approach which has earned him a reputation as arguably the most entertaining contestant on the current season of The Ultimate Fighter.

Lobov, representing Conor McGregor’s Team Europe, impressed in the most recent episode of the show when he stopped James Jenkins of Team USA via first-round TKO.

The victory should be enough to earn Lobov a place in the next stage of the competition, with eight of the nine winners set to progress to the quarter-finals — a line-up which will be confirmed during the next episode at 4am on Thursday morning on BT Sport 2.

On the regional circuit in Europe over the years, Lobov became known for his reluctance to keep his hands up during his fights, which allowed him to develop a unique and unorthodox style of striking.

Many believe that it’s a high-risk approach — McGregor encouraged Lobov to “keep your hands flowy” during his TUF preliminary fight — but Lobov is adamant that it’s not something he’ll change.

He reaped the benefits of that style against Jenkins, catching the American fighter with a beautiful right-counter which set up the finish via ground-and-pound.

1 Source: Ultimate Fighting Championship

Lobov told The42 that his defeat of Jenkins is one of many examples of why leaving your hands down can be effective: “Anyone who disagrees, I would show them that fight, 100%. I would also show them hundreds of other fights where a guy gets knocked out even though his hands are up. Jenkins, for example. His hands were up and he got knocked out.

“Having your hands up doesn’t stop you from getting knocked out and there are a lot of advantages to having your hands down. It’s also more exciting because it looks very impressive from the fans’ perspective, which is a big factor in the entertainment business.

“My shots come from very awkward angles and people don’t see them, and it’s also good to stop the takedown. My hands are already down so it’s easier to get the underhooks. There are a lot of benefits to this style.”

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Lobov had a point to prove against Jenkins but he insists that there wasn’t any additional pressure. He lost his opening fight of the season against Mehdi Baghdad but was given a wildcard to return to the competition.

“I wanted to show everybody that I belong in there and there’s no better way to do it than with a first-round knockout,” said the 28-year-old Russian-born fighter, who now competes under the Irish flag having lived in Dublin for the past 12 years.

CW70 Artem Lobov Source: Dolly Clew

“Was there extra pressure to prove a point? Not really, to be honest. Once you’re in there, it’s not as stressful anymore. You’re already on the show so all you have to do is train and fight. There was a bit of stress with the first fight to get in but I was relaxed this time.”

If all goes according to plan for Lobov — who’s Conor McGregor’s main sparring partner at Straight Blast Gym — he’ll be competing in the finale of The Ultimate Fighter in Las Vegas on 11 December — the night before McGregor faces Jose Aldo.

Lobov is currently helping his team-mate to prepare for his featherweight title unification bout against the Brazilian, and he believes the fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on 12 December won’t get out of the first round.

“Conor is looking amazing at the moment,” Lobov said. “He entered the last fight [against Chad Mendes] on one leg so that was Aldo’s chance to at least maybe try and get into the second round, but he missed it. Now he goes out in one [round].”

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