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Morning Report: Conor McGregor’s teammate Artem Lobov believes ‘Notorious’ will return to fighting

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UFC 202 Weigh-ins Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

For the last week, Conor McGregor’s ”retirement” has been dominating the MMA headlines. When McGregor initially made the announcement, reactions were split. Many didn’t believe the retirement to be genuine, but others, including UFC President Dana White, treated the retirement as if it were real. A week removed from the announcement though and the consensus seems to be shifting to the idea that we haven’t seen the last of Conor McGregor. On Monday, White even walked back his belief the McGregor was done and now, McGregor’s closest teammate and training partner has echoed those sentiments.

Speaking yesterday with Ariel Helwani of ESPN, Artem Lobov addressed his friend and teammate’s sudden retirement from MMA, saying that he strongly suspects McGregor will be back in the cage before too long.

“I don’t actually know much info on that but one thing I do know, I know that Conor absolutely loves the fight game,” Lobov said. “He truly loves it. Look, I always say this, 99 percent of people in the UFC would be gone if they have made $100 million. They just wouldn’t be there anymore and he’s still there. Why? Because he loves the fight game. He loves fighting. So I know he’s got something special in store for us, that’s for sure.”

McGregor and Lobov came up together on the mats of the Straight Blast Gym in Ireland. They quickly became friends, with Lobov eventually becoming McGregor’s main training partner and a staple of McGregor’s corners all through his rise to superstardom. Few men are better equipped to judge the seriousness of McGregor’s retirement, and Lobov remains convinced Conor has more fights left in him.

“I think [he will fight again],” Lobov said. “I think he will definitely put away a few more guys. I just know him. I know he loves this game. He loves the fight game and this is not just a job to him. This is him. He is the fight game.”

But whether not fighting is in his blood, McGregor also has a full plate at the moment. His personal whiskey brand, Proper 12, has been taking off globally and he is still attempting to build his own clothing line. Then there are the legal issues, with McGregor having recently been arrested for allegedly smashing and stealing a fan’s cell phone and currently being under investigation for a sexual allegation in Ireland.

Despite these other concerns, general consensus is that McGregor’s retirement is actually a negotiation tactic by “Notorious” in his continuing quest to get equity in the UFC. Dana White recently made it clear that would never happen though and Lobov, who was granted his release by the UFC in January, thinks that’s ridiculous. Lobov argues that McGregor is responsible for the UFC’s success in recent years and deserves his rightful share.

“The thing is, it’s a business,” said Lobov. “They’re fighting for every percentage there because when it comes down to Conor’s fights, even one percent means millions and millions and millions. In my eyes, of course he deserves a percentage of the UFC. His last fight was two and half million and that same year there was a pay-per-view card with 80,000 PPVs sold. That speaks for itself. He is the reason why the company was sold for $4 billion so why shouldn’t he get a piece of that?

“For anybody who says, ‘Then everyone will ask for that,’ no they won’t, because you tell them, ‘Show me your numbers. Show me what you bring in.’ You get a piece of the pie that you bring in. If you arrive with a bag of peanuts, then you can’t expect to eat a steak. But if you are killing a whole deer like Conor is then of course you deserve a nice, juicy piece of steak and he should get it.”

Lobov can’t spend to much time thinking about his friend’s possible retirement though; he has his own plans brewing. This weekend, Lobov takes on Jason Knight in the main event of Bare Knuckle FC. After that, he’s got his eyes set on recent BKFC signee, Paulie Malignaggi, a man who has had a sordid history with McGregor and his fight team.

“I cannot wait to bust through Jason Knight and then finally get my hands on Paulie Malignaggi,” Lobov said. “. . . I feel he needs punishing and I’m the guy to do that.”


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Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.



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