The mixed martial arts (MMA) return of Artem Lobov will have to wait for now.
Lobov hasn’t competed in MMA since October 2018 when he was outpointed by Michael Johnson at a UFC Fight Night event. He has since competed exclusively in bare knuckle boxing but was primed for an MMA return against Ylies Djiroun in the main event of Arena Fight 2 in France on Saturday.
That was until a number of positive COVID-19 tests for the promotion’s staff members led to the card’s postponement.
“This postponement follows the detection last weekend of six COVID-19 cases within the teams of the group,” a press release stated Tuesday. “We have therefore put in place measures to ensure the continuity of our operations such as the isolation of positive people and contact cases, the implementation of teleworking for all team members and the obligation to carry out PCR tests on Monday, December 7th for all our employees.
“Following this wave of tests, we regret to say that we have almost 20 positive cases within our organization and are still waiting for some results. The rest of the employees are de facto contact cases, which prevents us for obvious health and ethical reasons from maintaining AFC2 at the risk of contaminating our fighters, our service providers, our partners and, by ricochet, their families and friends.”
Lobov was understandably disappointed but promises to be back stronger than ever.
“I got a phone call from the promoter saying that’s it, the show is canceled. I was gutted, of course,” Lobov told MMA Junkie. “The camp wasn’t easy as it is between injuries and this and the other and COVID, but I got it done, as I always do, and was looking forward to putting on a great show.
“And, of course, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to the payday, but what can you do? Life goes on. I will rebuild, I will recover, and I will be back stronger than ever. … I know I will recover and keep pushing forward. We will get that fight done in the new year, and I will get that belt – and that paycheck. Thank you very much to everyone for their support and understanding. I look forward to seeing you all in the new year.”
Lobov — a teammate and friend of former two-weight UFC champion Conor McGregor — had previously stated that he planned on competing across a number of combat sports before ultimately retiring in two years.
Where do you think Lobov will compete before he ultimately hangs up his gloves?