The two men meet in Nashville later this month
In a couple of days, Artem Lobov will leave Ireland to contest his first UFC main event against perennial featherweight contender Cub Swanson in Nashville, Tennessee, which takes place on April 22nd.
‘The Russian Hammer’ tossed out a couple of callouts to Swanson and his ‘Fight of the Year 2016’ counterpart Doo Ho Choi after his win against Teruto Ishihara in Belfast. Initially, Swanson scoffed at Lobov’s advances, but a few weeks later, the deal had been done.
Lobov could be in a completely different situation when he touches back down on Irish soil after the five-round contest given Swanson’s proximity to the title as UFC’s fourth-ranked featherweight.
Swanson’s signing on the dotted line to meet him came as a surprise to the Saggart native, but he is well aware that the division could open up significantly for him if he has his hand raised against his fellow knockout artist.
Lobov revealed that if he had his choice of opponents to meet toward the top of the bracket, Swanson would have been the first name that came out of his mouth.
“I’m so grateful that UFC has given me this opportunity. If I get my hand raised on April 22nd big things will come from that,” said Lobov.
“Cub Swanson would be the guy I would have picked if UFC told me I could’ve had anyone in the top ten. His style matches up so well with mine. He’s wild, he’s open and the throws a lot of shots.
“I’m looking forward to scrapping with him and seeing how much he can take as well as how much he can give.”
It was the back and forth epic between Swanson and Choi that brought the pairing to the forefront of Lobov’s attention when they met in December. Both men had their moments to shine, but in the end, it was veteran Swanson who came away with the victory.
“I loved the Choi fight,” admitted Lobov. “I was on the edge of my seat. I felt like I was in there throwing every punch with them, and that’s the kind of feeling I want to give people when they watch me fight.
“This whole thing came about because of what I saw in that last fight. It was such a great fight and while I was watching it I was thinking that Cub and I could be an even better fight than that.
“I want to have a historic fight that everyone will remember. For example, when you think of Forrest Griffin versus Stephan Bonnar that wasn’t a title fight. It wasn’t even a main event.
“That fight has never been forgotten. Every time people are talking about the greatest fights ever they talk about Griffin versus Bonnar. Because of how I match up with Cub, I think we can an iconic fight too.”
Although Swanson’s durability was one of the main talking points after the fight, Lobov believes it will be a completely different story when the Jackson-Winkeljohn fighter feels his power.
“I’ve watched that fight a lot and the one thing that I take from it every time is how much he gets hit. If he takes shots like that off me it’s going to change the fight very quickly.
Lobov has a 2-2 record in the UFC. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Presseye/Matt Mackey
“I’ll earn his respect with the first shot that I land,” he said.
Respect is something that Lobov feels Swanson has been lacking in the lead up the fight. There were some reports that suggested that the featherweight pairing had been demoted to the co-main event of the Nashville date when Demian Maia and Jorge Masvidal was initially booked.
Lobov didn’t seem too phased by where the fight was placed on the card, but he believes Swanson being “distracted” by the potential shift on the card.
“I think he’s looking past me from the way he has behaved ahead of the fight. Things like the talk of whether the fight was the main event or not have distracted him. The only reason why he took the fight was because of where it was placed on the card, so I think that points to him overlooking me too.
“I really don’t think he thought about how dangerous this fight could be for him. To his credit, he always comes to fight and he is not afraid to exchange. At first, he didn’t want this fight at all, but maybe he thought about how entertaining the fight could be and he changed his mind.
“Honestly, I don’t think he’s going to realize how dangerous I am until we’re in there and I start connecting. He definitely won’t underestimate me after that.”
It has always been in the wildest exchanges and the most ferocious of bouts that Lobov has come into his own. When contemplating the style matchup, the Dublin-based Russian knows that both he and his opponent could be in for a long night, but he also thinks he has what it takes to claim an emphatic finish.
“I’ve prepared myself for a twenty-round war. This will be a war and I think I’m more than capable of sparking this guy out. We’ve seen Cub, we know how he fights and he’s done that to his opponents over the years too. I’m not too worried about that though, I just hope that they are able to wake him up when I’m finished with him.”