Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Artem Lobov is a businessman when it comes to his fight career, but there’s one opponent who he wants to face without any financial interest whatsoever.
The UFC veteran, who recently made a name for himself in bare-knuckle fighting, is currently gearing up for a return to mixed martial arts in December for his first bout of 2020.
According to Lobov, he actually inked a one-fight deal with Arena Fight Championships for his matchup later this year because he wants to keep his options open with plans to stay very busy over the next 12 months. That said, “The Russian Hammer” is willing to put everything on hold if someone comes calling with the opportunity to face Zubaira Tukhugov.
“For me, I’m going to fight for two more years so I’m not going to tie myself to a contract and wait for promoters to find me a favorable matchup, this or that,” Lobov explained when speaking to MMA Fighting. “I want to stay active. I want to be able to take fights on short notice.
“I want to be able to take fights across multiple sports and one of the main reasons is I really want the Tukhugov fight. I want to be able to accept that should that call come.”
Lobov’s history with Tukhugov dates back to an infamous incident that took place ahead of UFC 223 in 2018 when he was involved in a confrontation with Khabib Nurmagomedov prior to his own bout scheduled that weekend.
The initial incident then boiled over when former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor went after Nurmagomedov and his entire team as they were sitting on a bus at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn awaiting transportation back to their hotel.
Lobov was then scheduled to face Tukhugov later that year, but the Russian fighter was removed from the card due to his role in a post-fight brawl that broke out after McGregor lost to Nurmagomedov at UFC 229. Ever since that time, Lobov has been calling for a fight against Tukhugov and he will continue until that wish is granted.
“This is a must-fight for me,” Lobov stated. “I will not stop calling this guy out no matter what. So this fight is going to happen. That’s it.
“To me now, realistically, he should be cut from the UFC. I mean if you look at it, let’s look at it objectively, and I know a lot of media is going to come on board now and start saying this or that, but let’s look at it realistically.”
Tukhugov is currently coming off a loss to Hakeem Dawodu in his last appearance in the UFC, which came after he failed to make weight for the fight. The Russian prospect currently stands with a 4-2-1 record in the UFC.
“He just came off a two-year ban for steroids,” Lobov said when referencing Tukhugov being suspended for two years by the United States Anti-Doping Agency after testing positive for ostarine. “Then he misses weight, which Dana [White] absolutely hates. Second, he loses the fight. He not only loses the fight but he runs the whole fight from the guy. That’s not engaging in fighting. I mean let’s be honest, for half of those things Dana would cut you in a split-second.
“This guy if he does end up staying [in the UFC] this is only thanks to Khabib. Other than that, he should be cut and to be honest, he should just leave himself on his own terms and let’s get our fight done. Let’s set it up. I’m busy Dec. 12 but Dec. 13 I’m ready to go.”
Lobov makes it clear that his disdain for Tukhugov transcends any business transaction involved with his career, which is why he’s willing to forgo a paycheck in order to make this fight happen.
“Yes absolutely, I will do it for free and if any money comes my way, I will be donating every single cent to a children’s charity,” Lobov said. “I want to donate it to an orphanage.”
For all the bad blood shared between McGregor, Nurmagomedov and their respective teammates, Lobov would like something good to come from a potential fight with Tukhugov.
“It’s not more personal, it’s all personal,” Lobov said about the rivalry. “That’s because there’s been so much badness coming out of that whole thing with Khabib’s team so I’d like something good to come out of it. That’s why I want to donate the money to an orphanage.”