Artem Lobov wanted to win every fight in his career, but he has rarely been as motivated as he was going into his showdown with Paulie Malignaggi this past weekend.
Lobov and Malignaggi verbally sparred in numerous interviews and the former UFC fighter even got spat on during a press conference while promoting their fight at Bare Knuckle Fighting Championships 6.
That’s why Lobov looked at his bare-knuckle brawl with Malignaggi as an absolute must-win situation unlike anything he’s ever faced before.
“To me, a fight is a fight, I just want to win it no matter what, but this one of course was a lot more personal,” Lobov told the MMA Hour on Monday. “This was an emotional build-up and a win was a must here. So it was a very important win. It was definitely not my favorite performance, definitely not my best performance or most exciting fighting but it was a must win.
“I couldn’t have lost here. No way and I didn’t and I brought the win home and that’s the only thing that matters now.”
The genesis of the rivalry actually tracks back to Lobov’s teammate Conor McGregor, who engaged in a pair of sparring sessions with Malignaggi as he prepared to face Floyd Mayweather in 2017. Malignaggi abruptly left the training camp and then engaged in a back-and-forth war of words with McGregor for nearly two years regarding what actually happened in those sparring sessions.
Lobov eventually took up the cause for his teammate and friend before earning a unanimous decision victory over Malignaggi this past Saturday night to hopefully close the door on that rivalry once and for all.
After the fight was over, Lobov talked to McGregor about his performance and living up to his promise to beat Malignaggi in the bare-knuckle boxing match.
“I spoke to Conor, he said that was a good performance. I dominated the fight. I pressed the action all the time and he said it was a very good performance and a great win for me,” Lobov stated.
By all accounts, McGregor has put the Malignaggi beef behind him as well, especially considering the 38-year old boxer said he was calling it a career for good this time after falling to Lobov.
For his part, Lobov was happy to get the win and that settled any grievances he had with Malignaggi in the past or going into the future.
“When you fight someone, it’s different. It’s a lot of conflict that you can have. Once you fought somebody, that’s it,” Lobov said. “There’s not much to it anymore. You went in there, you settled it like men, one on one, and that’s it.
“After that, I don’t think there’s really a point to kind of carry it with you, any of that negativity. You just go on with your life, be positive, and just enjoy your life and be a happy person. That’s how it is for me.”