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Artem Lobov on nearly signing for KSW, Bellator, offering to fight ‘MVP’ for $1M

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Artem Lobov
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Artem Lobov has had no shortage of options since parting ways with the UFC, and on the back of his run with Bare Knuckle FC, “The Russian Hammer” may be considering a move back to MMA with Polish promotional powerhouse KSW being the latest banner to pique his interest.

Giving an update on his options across a multitude of promotions and combat sports, Lobov underlined that KSW could be a realistic option for his next port of call having already began negotiations with the organization.

“It was really close,” Lobov told MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast.

“Where we got to was, I told them what I want to get paid and everything seemed to be going fine. The last bit of the negotiation that was left was the fact that I just wanted to do a one-fight deal with them whereas they wanted to sign me to an exclusive contract. That’s kind of where we were, just negotiating terms. I might not mind doing an exclusive MMA contract with them as long as they allow me to fight in boxing and bare knuckle. They don’t seem to mind that, but that’s where we were at.”

The SBG fighter maintained that fighting for KSW has always been an objective for him as an MMA fighter:

“To me, KSW is a huge promotion and it’s on my list of one of the things I want to do as an MMA fighter. I think that goes for any European fighter,” Lobov said.

“If you look at it now, KSW has the second-largest attendance record in the world, losing only to PRIDE. PRIDE doesn’t exist anymore, so for the active promotions they are No. 1. To me, that’s something. They are one of those promotions that never seem to want to compete with the UFC, they just have selected their own path. Their shows are always sold out, they’re always on mainstream TV stations in Poland, they always make money and they never seem to care about what other promotions are doing.”

The Dublin-based brawler highlighted that a rematch with former promotional champion Artur Sowinski would be an ideal fight for him with KSW.

“Artur Sowinksi is a fight that I want to put right for a long time - that win was stolen from me,” he explained. “His friend was the promoter, a Polish promoter at the time and he overturned it, but that’s a win in my mind - it was a win that was stolen from me. At the time, I went on Polish TV and everywhere calling him out. I said, ‘Forget that, whatever. You guys f*cked me over, you stole my win from me, but I’m willing to forget it, I’m not a moaner - let’s meet in the cage and make it right again.’ For some reason, he didn’t want that fight.

“Of course, now that I’m a much bigger name he might be interested. In my opinion, he doesn’t fully deserve that fight with me. I’m a big name now, this would be a big money fight for him. He doesn’t really deserve it. He stole the win from me, he turned down the rematch with me when I asked him, he doesn’t really deserve it. At the same time, I really want to make that right for a long time and it would be so sweet to finally knock that guy out. I nearly knocked him out the first time, I dropped him twice, but I didn’t get the finish. I feel if we met now it would be game over for him.”

Lobov also discussed how Bellator offered him a contract after he parted ways with UFC, but a huge offer from Bare Knuckle FC topped the deal.

“To be honest, [Bellator] made me an offer just after I left the UFC,” Lobov said. “It was a very good offer and I was very grateful for the offer. I was ready to sign for them, but at the time Bare Knuckle FC were throwing money at me and I just couldn’t turn that down. I tried to ask Bellator to up the cash just a little bit, just so it would make a little more sense for me to sign with them, but they didn’t. It was a no-brainer for me. I just couldn’t turn down the money Bare Knuckle FC were throwing at me, so I ended up signing with them.”

“I’m still not ruling Bellator out of the equation completely,” he added. “They come to Ireland twice a year and it’s always a big show. It’s big promotion, I could certainly see myself in the Bellator cage as well, but KSW seem to be very close to signing me at the moment.”

He also revealed that he offered to step in to face Michael Page when he was left without a dance partner for Bellator London on the week of the fight last November. Lobov quipped that he offered the promotion a discounted rate of $1 million because he likes the organization.

“When this happened I messaged John Kavanagh because he has a very close relationship with Bellator. I messaged him straightaway and said, ‘Tell them it’s one million and I’ll step in for one million.’ The fight was probably worth more than that, but I like Bellator so I thought I’d give them a little discount,” he said.

“I would love to fight MVP. I know we’re in different weight classes, but I feel it’s a very winnable fight for me. I know his style and I have keys to beating him. To be honest, when he fought Paul Daley I thought Paul has the style to beat him, but for some f*cking reason, Paul decided he was a wrestler that night. I honestly don’t know what he was thinking or who gave him that idea, that was the biggest mistake. For me, he’s got the perfect style [to beat MVP]. That tight, K-1 style where you back the guy up and he has nowhere to go. He’s got a lot of power in his hands. I feel if he had’ve stood with him he would’ve won.”

Artem Lobov’s debut appearance on Eurobash begins at 53:30.