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Dublin: 9°C Saturday 17 April 2021

'The Irish have embraced me as one of their own so I look forward to putting on a show for them'

Artem Lobov looks ahead to Saturday’s outing at UFC Belfast.


ARTEM LOBOV (12-12-1-1) IS keen to put on a show for the home crowd this Saturday night when he takes on Teruto Ishihara (9-2-2) at UFC Fight Night 99 at Belfast’s SSE Arena.

Lobov is the only Irish fighter on the main card for the UFC’s return to these shores. The event will be headlined by a middleweight rematch between Gegard Mousasi and Uriah Hall.

Having been satisfied with the manner in which he secured a unanimous-decision win over Chris Avila at UFC 202 back in August, Lobov is aiming to pick up his second win in the UFC this weekend.

“I was happy enough with my performance [against Avila],” Lobov told The42 during an interview after a training session at Straight Blast Gym on Dublin’s Naas Road.

“It was a mature performance, an experienced performance. I dominated him everywhere, even when it went down to the ground for a little bit. He was afraid to stay there. He was the one that actually got out of there and wanted me to get back up, so I was happy enough with the performance.”

Entering his clash with Avila on the back of defeats to Ryan Hall and Alex White in his first two UFC outings, Lobov knew that a win was essential in order to preserve his place on the roster. However, the 30-year-old insists that the stakes didn’t add to the pressure.

inpho_00920442 Source: INPHO/Gary Carr

He said: “There’s always pressure when you fight in the UFC or anywhere else. You never want to lose. A win means so much more for your career, financially and everything really. The pressure is always there. Whether you’re going to be cut or not, that doesn’t really affect me. I just go in there and take it one fight at a time.”

Lobov’s fight this Saturday night will be his first on Irish soil in over two years. The Russian-born featherweight, who now holds dual citizenship having lived in Ireland for the past 14 years, is relishing the novelty of home advantage.

“It’s always good to get the support,” he said. “I’ve been feeling it all the time, great Irish support. They’ve embraced me as one of their own, I’m really thankful, so I look forward to putting on a show for them.”

As for his opponent, Lobov has been impressed by Ishihara’s track record, which includes knockout victories over Julian Erosa and Horacio Gutierrez earlier this year. The 25-year-old Japanese fighter, who trains at Team Alpha Male in California, is still undefeated in the UFC having drawn with Mizuto Hirota in his debut in September of last year.

“He’s not bad. He comes to fight,” Lobov admitted. “He seems to have gotten a few knockouts so he must have a bit of power. I look forward to testing that. I look forward to seeing how he fares against me. It’s going to be a good fight.”

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