Former UFC featherweight Artem Lobov almost signed for Bellator last year and that remains a possibility even today.
Lobov departed the UFC and went on to sign a lucrative deal with Bare Knuckle FC in 2019. After going 2-1 over three fights — including wins over Jason Knight and Paulie Malignaggi — “The Russian Hammer” is now a free agent again and is weighing up his options.
Polish MMA promotion KSW seems to be at the top of his list for the moment. But Lobov is not ruling Bellator out either as he detailed how close he was to signing with Scott Coker‘s company last year:
“To be honest, [Bellator] made me an offer just after I left the UFC,” Lobov told MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast. “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. 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.”
In fact, Lobov also made an offer to step in and face Michael “Venom” Page in November when the latter’s original Bellator London opponent Derek Anderson had to pull out.
He even offered a discounted deal of $1 million:
“When this happened I messaged John Kavanagh because he has a very close relationship with Bellator,” Lobov added. “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.”
Although Lobov competes at featherweight and Page competes at welterweight, he feels he would have matched up well with the Briton:
“I would love to fight MVP,” Lobov said. “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.”
What do you make of Lobov’s comments?