In the first battle between Camp Nate Diaz and Camp Conor McGregor, it'd be the Irish's team who'd score the first blow at UFC 202. Artem Lobov defeated Chris Avila by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) on Saturday night.
In the first round at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas,, it was all Lobov. The McGregor teammate pressured Avila backwards, landing thudding outside lead leg kicks, an assortment of body shots and the occasional hook. Avila landed the occasional body kick or counterstrike, but was on his back foot near the fence for virtually the entire frame.
During the second frame, Lobov slowed somewhat, but didn't stray from the game plan. He continued to batter Avila's lead leg with an intermittent array of other strikes to keep the Lodi native back pedaling and unable to mount any kind of real offense.
By the third and final frame, Lobov picked up right where they left off, buckling Avila's lead leg. An unintentional headbutt temporarily halted the action, but it didn't stop Lobov's onslaught. The Irish-Russian didn't tun up the pace as the fight wore on, but he didn't need to. Avila only ever landed once Lobov planted himself on the ground temporarily as a result of a slip, a moment in time which was brief.
In the end, the judges scored it easily for Lobov.
"In times of war, my brothers never let me down," Lobov told UFC commentator Joe Rogan. "The Russian and the Irish hammers."
When asked if his win portended anything for the night's main event, Lobov was unequivocal.
"Absolutely, I've heard Nate say before he doesn't like sharing cards with his teammates, so I made sure to give him that loss," Lobov said. "Watch McGregor stop him in the third round."
The win lifts Lobov's record to an even 12-12-1 while the loss drops Avila to 5-3.