NASHVILLE — Artem Lobov came into his headliner with Cub Swanson on Saturday as the biggest betting underdog on the card. The narrative surrounding the fight was that Lobov had only gotten a main event slot because he’s friends and training partners with UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor.
And while that may have played a role, “The Russian Hammer” is leaving UFC Fight Night 108 with some well-earned respect, losing a competitive unanimous decision to the fourth-ranked featherweight in the world.
Speaking to the media afterward, Lobov insisted that though Swanson “was the better man tonight” he was still never in trouble by anything “Killer Cub” did.
“There was a few shots that I felt, but I was never feeling like I was gonna get finished,” Lobov said. “I can take a punch. Born in Russia, forged in Ireland, they don’t make them like this anymore. I can take a shot, that’s for sure.”
He certainly can. Despite the apparent mismatch, Lobov hung tough with Swanson for the full 25 minutes and even won the first round on two of the judges scorecards. He also showed off an impressive chin, taking a number of big kicks and punches from the powerful Swanson, without ever being in any serious trouble. It was that rugged durability that impressed fans.
But Lobov isn’t one for moral victories. Despite impressing the fans and disproving the doubters, Lobov insists that a loss is a loss.
“I came to win so I don’t feel great but what are you gonna do?” he said. “This is the fight game, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. What else can I say?”
Still, it was an impressive showing for the unheralded Lobov and one that announced him as a legitimate fighter in the talented 145-pound division. And though he may not care for moral victories, that’s not the only win he got tonight. Lobov’s battle with Swanson earned him his first Fight of the Night bonus and an extra $50,000, a feat he expects to continue moving forward.
“I’m right on track,” Lobov said. “I was actually surprised I didn’t get one earlier as I wasn’t able to perform to that level. Before the UFC, I used to get Fights of the Night every time. Literally, every show I was on it was Fight of the Night. So I was expecting to have a lot more by this time but now is a good time to start and keep it that way.”
But Lobov isn’t just happy he got Fight of the Night for the bonus money, he’s also glad because he says he goes out there to fight for the fans. And though he did say “you win or you lose, that’s it” he also said that so long as the fans enjoyed it, he views the evening as a success.
“I hope it was a good fight for the fans,” Lobov said. “At the end of the day, fans make the show. If there’s no one watching, then there’s no one paying, then we don’t earn any money, then what’s the point? This is the whole point, entertain the fans. This is an entertainment business. If they were entertained, then it was a success.”