Is Artem Lobov’s UFC resiliency a product of his relationship to Conor McGregor? John Kavanagh, who coaches both men, would beg to differ.
Kavanagh wrote a passionate, lengthy defense of Lobov this weekend on Facebook. Lobov, a good friend and longtime training partner of McGregor, fell to Michael Johnson by unanimous decision in the co-main event of UFC Moncton last Saturday, his third straight UFC loss. Kavanagh said despite Lobov’s reputation, he has not been an easy fight for anyone in the UFC, including contenders like Cub Swanson.
“What happened when he met ‘perennial contender’ Cub Swanson,” Kavanagh wrote. “BJJ Blackbelt and aggressive creative striker with huge amount of experience at one of the best training camps in the world. Artem only got that main event slot because of Conor right? He was going to be badly exposed and KO’d or Sub’d in a minute or two right? Wrong. 25 tough minutes where Artem had his moments and jointly earned ‘fight of the night’ award. Although he ultimately lost, to say it looked like he did not belong in the UFC would be to speak with emotion because you dislike him/Conor rather than fact based on performance.”
Kavanagh insinuated that those who say Lobov (13-15-1, 1 NC) should not be in the UFC should not agree that CM Punk, or the last man who beat him Mike Jackson, are deservedly part of the top promotion’s roster.
“So dont cut fighters who lose more than they win?” Kavanagh wrote. “Obviously not. Someone like CM Punk who although ‘entertaining’ clearly could not compete at the UFC level. His last fight was against someone who was 1-0 as an amateur and 0-2 as a pro. For his own health he needs to fight much lower level competition.”
Lobov and CM Punk or Jackson cannot be compared, Kavanagh said, because of how Lobov has performed inside the Octagon. Lobov was able to win two rounds against Johnson on the scorecards of two judges.
“So is Artem similar? “ Kavanagh said. “Very low skill level but has a famous mate? Well let’s look at the evidence starting with last night. I’ve been a big fan of MJ for years now. Ran over LW ‘in the title mix’ Poirer in less than 2mins. Beat the very skilled Tony Ferguson and Edson Barboza. So surely when the once no.5 ranked LW in the world fought Artem it was going to be a complete mismatch? Then how is it after 2 rounds 2 judges had it even going into the 3rd. Round 3 was close until MJ snatched it with a terrific takedown. Well done and great win. But that’s not the point. One could hardly argue it was a one sided beat down.”
Kavanagh lauded Lobov’s run on The Ultimate Fighter in 2015, getting a call back after an injury and winning three straight fights by knockout to earn a spot in the finals. In his opinion, that’s not something a fighter who does not belong in the UFC will do.
And that lopsided record, Kavanagh wrote, is not how it might appear to the naked eye.
“Artem is a rare breed of fighter,” Kavanagh said. “A fighters’ fighter. I’ve had conversations with top brass in the top organisations and they tell me it doesn’t matter who your guys fight, just get them winning records and we’ll take them on. That’s all that matters and has been commonplace in professional boxing for a long long time. Get them to 12-0 and we’ll sign them. That’s not Artem’s approach. Every fight was the toughest fight he could possibly find. Often times we would argue about that as I would try and guide him a little bit. He did not want to know. It is absolutely not the most efficient approach if you want to get to the ‘big organisations’. It’s one I’ve learned from but it’s also one that is impossible not to respect.”