When Artem Lobov steps into the ring this Saturday to fight Jason Knight, he’ll do so under whole new surroundings.
Firstly, there will be no gloves. The men will fight bare knuckle. Secondly, there will be no grappling. This is boxing only. And thirdly, there will be no pressure. Why? Well, simply put, all of the above.
“I’ve wanted to do boxing for a long time,” Lobov said, speaking with TheMacLife.com. “Why wouldn’t you? You’ve seen me, I walk through headkicks. What’s somebody going to do with just hands? I’ve got crazy amounts of power, I’ve proven that on The Ultimate Fighter — knockout after knockout after knockout — so it’s a no brainer for me. You go in, hands are strong, chin is strong, that’s it. No takedowns. None of this cuddling on the floor. Let’s see some real fights.
“I don’t know how it is for other people but for me I actually feel so excited to do it now,” Lobov continued. “Before every MMA fight you always have that worry, ‘Okay if I get taken down I have to work my way up, that’s what I’m going to do’, and the striking, I can’t truly show my potential because I know there is the clinch, there is the risk of a takedown, so I have to behave a certain way.
“Now, all of this is gone out the window. I’m literally walking into this fight a free man. That’s how I feel, I’m free. I have nothing to fear. Shots? They don’t bother me. There are no takedowns, there’s nothing else, there’s just me knocking him out. I can’t wait to serve his broken jaw on a plate to someone.”
As far as Knight as an opponent, Lobov feels content. The pair were featherweight fan favourites in the UFC, albeit for different fighting styles, until they left the promotion earlier this year. For Lobov, it was always a fight that could have taken place in the Octagon, but instead now finds it happening with a ruleset he thinks favours himself.
“I call it the Night-Night Jason Knight,” Lobov said. “It’s game over for him. I’ve been dying to get these grapplers, wrestlers, into a boxing ring, but I honestly thought that was not a possibility. I thought they were just in my dreams. Dreams do become reality, as they say, and they sure do.
“What is he going to do now? He used to be top ten fighter in the UFC, and rightfully so, but that’s because he uses his mixed martial arts really well. He combines the striking with a little bit of wrestling, a little bit of grappling, if he gets taken down he’s very active off his back with the rubber guard. But now you take all that away and you just have boxing, he’s a very average fighter, and I’m going to go through him very easy.
“I say to everybody, this is a preview for the Paulie Malignaggi fight, and many people tell me, ‘Oh don’t look ahead’ and all this. What you mean don’t look ahead? Of course you have to plan ahead. Otherwise you end up with the Brexit situation, and you go from Theresa May to Theresa Maybe to Theresa Not-A-Chance.
“So I am preparing for Paulie Malignaggi. Later in the year, I’m going to go through him. And April 6, you’re going to get a chance for a little preview. So tune in, and don’t miss it.”