Lobov takes on Alex White at UFC 196 on 6 February.
The Russian Hammer

'Most UFC fighters don't love fighting. Anyone would do it for $50,000'

Ahead of his second UFC bout, the adopted Irishman and sparring partner to Conor McGregor explains how he is different to many other fighters.

A COMMON COMPLAINT from contestants who have lived The Ultimate Fighter experience is how much they struggled to deal with the isolation.

For six weeks, the group of aspiring UFC fighters are cut off from the outside world and living in a Las Vegas house where the daily routine is: eat, sleep, train, fight, repeat.

But that certainly wasn’t an issue in the case of Artem Lobov.

The Russian-born Irish fighter suffered defeat in his first bout of the recently-screened 22nd season but was brought back in on a wildcard selection by friend, sparring partner and TUF coach Conor McGregor.

With his exciting fighting style, the SBG man earned fans and a place in the show’s finale –where he lost out to Ryan Hall by unanimous decision in December.

Given the chance, he’d gladly do it all over again.

“I’d do every season of the Ultimate Fighter if they let me,” Lobov told The42 this week.

“Why wouldn’t you want to do it? I never get these guys who complain about going into the TUF house and how hard it is.

“You’re given food, your training and transport is sorted, your house is clean and you get paid to be a fighter.”

Lobov and McGregor during The Ultimate Fighter. Lobov and McGregor during TUF 22. Intagram / RusHammer Intagram / RusHammer / RusHammer

With a masters degree from DCU, the 29-year-old has always been well able to look after himself financially. Through college he worked part-time in a bar, then held a job in banking before packing it in to focus full-time on MMA.

Lobov isn’t in this game for the money, the fame or anything else that comes with being an elite fighter and his sole passion is challenging himself in one-on-one combat.

“I just really love fighting, it’s as simple as that,” he explains. “If someone loves drinking and you asked them do to they want to go drinking on a Saturday night, they would say yeah.

“That’s the same for me with fighting so I want to do it as often as I can. None of this four fights a year bollocks, I want to fight all the time.

“Achievements don’t really bother me and I just want to fight as much as I can.

“The reason I’m in the UFC is because it A) has the biggest challenges and B) is the only place that I can just fight and not have to worry about anything else financially.

“I can have no distractions. I just concentrate on fighting and that’s why I’m here.”

For many others, however, he believes it’s just a means to an end.

“This is what you supposedly love to do and maybe that is the problem for a lot of fighters,” he says. “In fact there are very few people in the UFC that love fighting. They are there because they want to get paid.

“There is an easy road there because you can avoid fighting all the hard fights, you can pad your record and next thing you’re in the UFC fighting.

“Anyone would fight in the UFC for $50,000. You go out on the street now and ask people will they take a fighter for $50,000 and many of them will say yes.

When I was fighting on the European circuits and the challenge was tough and the pay was €200, you saw very few people putting their hand up.

“I was one of the few that answered the call every damn time, so now I deserve my shot in the UFC.”

He smiled and adds: “I’ll tell you one thing — the UFC is filled with pussies. I want to take (UFC matchmaker) Sean Shelby out to a nightclub because that guy sure knows how to find pussy!”

That willingness to take any fight that comes his way, often at late notice, means Lobov’s professional MMA record stands at 11 wins, 11 losses and one draw.

He has the chance to claim a first victory in the UFC on 6 February, however, when he meets American featherweight Alex White (10-2-0 in MMA, 1-2-0 in UFC) at the MGM Grand.

“This fighter reminds me of when I was up against Martin Svensson. He is also a very tall southpaw and I knocked him out in the second round so I see this going the same way,” Lobov predicts.

It will definitely be a knockout and hopefully in the first round but he might make it boring and drag it into the second round.”

As McGregor’s lightweight title match-up with Rafael dos Anjos is just around the corner, the plan is to then remain in Vegas and help his team-mate through final preparations.

And how does he see that one going?

“It’s not looking great for dos Anjos,” he replies. “He is an aggressive fighter who likes to come forward and you’ve seen what happened the two fighters (Marcus Brimage and Jose Aldo) who did that against Conor.”

McGregor predicts he will be a THREE-WEIGHT champion by the end of 2016

WATCH: McGregor and dos Anjos meet at UFC 197 press conference

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