Artem Lobov wasn’t too happy when Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) yanked Zubaira Tukhugov from their scheduled Featherweight showdown, which was set to go down this Saturday night (Oct. 27, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 138 in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.
The promotion opted to take Zubaira from the fight for his involvement in the infamous UFC 229 brawl in Las Vegas, Nevada, involving members of the Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor camps (see it here). Plus, White revealed that Tukhugov would never fight inside the Octagon, though he has yet to officially release him.
Now, Lobov is saying he wants to be released from his UFC contract if the promotion follows through on its threat to Zubaira. And it’s not to show solidarity for his fellow countryman.
“If they cut him, I want to be gone as well,” Lobov said on The Ariel Helwani MMA Show (via ESPN). “I will fight him in ACB, Bellator or any league he wants to do it. But I will get him. It has to be done inside the Octagon. I want to look this man in the eyes, one-on-one. Once you’re inside that Octagon, it’s one-on-one. Your skill versus his skill. Your heart versus his heart. I want to test his heart in the Octagon. I want to see what he’s got.”
For those keeping score at home, that is now three fighters who have requested to be let go from their UFC obligations in the last two weeks, though the promotion isn’t keen on fulfilling any request.
Michael Johnson was pegged to face Artem in Moncton, and though Lobov isn’t too thrilled with the replacement, he decided to fulfill his obligations.
“I’m only doing this (against Johnson) because I was already ready to go and I haven’t fought in a year,” Lobov said. “For many reasons, I have to take this fight. But make no mistake, I want Zubaira,” he added.
”We need this win, but I don’t feel the pressure. To me, this is one step closer to getting Zubaira back. There is nothing else on my mind. That’s the only thing I can even think of. I’m not going to rest, I’m not going to sleep, until I get him back.”
Indeed, the Khabib-Mcgregor rivalry doesn’t seem to be dying down anytime soon.