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Artem Lobov: Conor McGregor ‘probably did’ factor into my UFC 223 booking

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Lobov vs Ishihara Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

Artem Lobov thinks it’s possible that the UFC booked his fight against Alex Caceres at UFC 223 in an effort to guarantee Conor McGregor’s presence at the Brooklyn event.

In the past, “The Notorious” has made headlines as a spectator during Lobov’s bouts in Belfast and Gdansk.

With Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov set to clash for an undefined lightweight title on the night, “The Russian Hammer” wouldn’t be surprised if his SBG teammate factored into the UFC’s decision.

“I’d say they definitely might have thought about it,” Lobov told MMA Fighting. “It probably did (factor into the decision), and why not?

“They flew Conor out to see Aldo’s fight in Brazil before when he was defending his belt against Chad Mendes, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see history repeating itself in Brooklyn. I guess they did kind of think about that.

“I’m not too concerned about why they booked me, if I’m honest. I need to fight and I need to win. That’s my main focus now. Whether it’s in the UFC or elsewhere, you need to winning in this sport.”

An initial report from The Mac Life suggested that Lobov’s meeting with “Bruce Leeroy” could happen in London. Although the English capital was batted around as a destination for the featherweight clash, Lobov is happy that he will get an opportunity to fight in front of New York’s thriving Irish and Russian communities.

“This is a great card,” Lobov said. “London would have been a good one as well with it being Paddy’s Day and London being so close to Dublin. I would have loved to be there, but this is just as good.

“The Irish and Russian communities are huge in New York, so this is truly one of the only places where I can fight in front of all of my fans. I really feel like I represent both Ireland and Russia when I fight, so this is a good opportunity to represent both nations.”

Lobov recently visited Russia where he led the nation’s special forces in a training session at the Kremlin. Despite being the best-known training partner of Nurmagomedov’s rival, McGregor, he claimed that he had no issues with any MMA fans in his place of birth.

“There are a lot of Conor fans and there are a lot of Khabib fans in Russia,” he said.

“Both guys are really good fighters so it’s only natural that they have a lot of fans, but I’ve never been given any trouble by anyone over there because I’m Conor’s teammate. The people are great; they’re really friendly. I think there is a big difference between real people and Internet people. Real life people understand that this is a sport.

“At the end of the day, we all need competitors otherwise there are no fights. If there are no fights there is no money. At the end of the day, Conor’s family is fed and so is Khabib’s. Normal people understand that.”

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