It has been common practice to look at Artem Lobov’s record and question whether he is deserving of a spot on the Ultimate Fighting Championship roster.
In fact, many critics believe that Lobov has managed to stick around as long as he has simply on the basis of being Conor McGregor’s teammate. SGB Ireland coach John Kavanagh recently issued a passionate statement in defense of Lobov after “The Russian Hammer” fell to 13-15-1 — and 2-5 in the Octagon — with a decision defeat to Michael Johnson at UFC Fight Night Moncton this past Saturday.
"So does Artem deserve to be in the UFC based on his own merits? Should he be cut after another loss? Well firstly, if losses against high level opposition were the only criteria for being cut then you’d be quickly left with just [two] in each weight class,” Kavanagh wrote on Facebook. “Sounds obvious but on every fight card HALF the fighters lose. Cut them all?”
Kavanagh goes on to point out that Lobov was competitive against Johnson, a fighter with noteworthy UFC wins against the likes of Dustin Poirier, Edson Barboza and Tony Ferguson over the course of his career. The SBG Ireland trainer also mentions Lobov’s five-round decision loss against Cub Swanson in the UFC Fight Night 108 headliner, a contest which earned “Fight of the Night” honors.
“Artem is a rare breed of fighter. A fighters’ fighter,” Kavanagh wrote. “I’ve had conversations with top brass in the top [organizations] 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 [organizations]’. It’s one I’ve learned from but it’s also one that is impossible not to respect.”
To his credit, Kavanagh admits that his post is written “from a position of emotion” as not only the coach of the fighter, but his friend.
“I don’t think Artem has the skills to be a UFC world champion, I can be honest and state that but he 100 [percent} has earned the respect of his fellow fighters and shown, independently, he earned his spot on that stage,” Kavanagh wrote. “He understands the business and knows how to build a fight and always brings an exciting contest. Love him, hate him fans are always engaged when the Russian Hammer is on a card. I do not know what is next for him. Maybe he will decide to put his masters in finance or his fluency in [five] languages to use in the corporate world but if he fights again I will proudly stand behind him holding his bucket.”
Kavanagh also posted a video of Lobov sparring with McGregor from seven years ago, long before the “Notorious” one became the biggest star in the UFC.