UFC featherweight Artem Lobov takes a lot of flack for being Conor McGregor’s sidekick — a lot of it generated by the perceived preferential treatment from the UFC that comes with that status. You don’t have to look far on the internet any time Lobov fights to find articles and forum posts reminding us of his sub .500 record and how he doesn’t deserve those slots up in the main and co-main event of cards.
MMA Fighting’s Chuck Mindenhall just filed his own entry into the genre following Lobov’s loss to Michael Johnson at UFC Moncton, and while there’s nothing particularly unique (or incorrect) about his observations, it did raise the ire of McGregor and Lobov head coach John Kavanagh.
”Artem Lobov is only in the UFC because of his relationship with Conor McGregor,” Kavanagh wrote in a lengthy open letter on Facebook. “Maybe. Only for Conor he would not have been brought back after his preliminary loss on the Ultimate Fighter and, who knows, maybe quit. He has a losing record and just suffered another loss last night. If it’s just records you’re interested in, if someone’s win/loss record is as deep as your analysis is capable of then I’d stop reading now. Actually if you’ve never really tried to achieve anything yourself and instead enjoy making snide remarks and commentating on where the ‘the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better’ then I recommend Chuck Mindenhall’s recent article.”
Kavanagh went on to defend Lobov’s accomplishments in the face of tough competition.
“I’ve been a big fan of [Michael Johnson] for years now,” he wrote. “Ran over LW ‘in the title mix’ Poirer in less than 2mins. Beat the very skilled Tony Ferguson and Edson Barboza. So surely when the once no.5 ranked LW in the world fought Artem it was going to be a complete mismatch? Then how is it after 2 rounds 2 judges had it even going into the 3rd. Round 3 was close until MJ snatched it with a terrific takedown. Well done and great win. But that’s not the point. One could hardly argue it was a one sided beat down.”
“What about his run on the Ultimate Fighter. Impossible to argue he did not catch a lucky break getting the ‘Wildcard’. But what did he do with that break? KO’d 3 guys in a row to fight on the finale. Only a handful of fighters on the planet have been able to achieve a run on TUF like that.”
“I believe his performances in the cage against the highest level opposition in the world is worthy of a lot more respect that it gets. I don’t think Artem has the skills to be a UFC World Champion, I can be honest and state that but he 100% has earned the respect of his fellow fighters and shown, independently, he earned his spot on that stage. He understands the business and knows how to build a fight and always brings an exciting contest. Love him, hate him fans are always engaged when the Russian Hammer is on a card.”
The whole letter is worth checking out, and while it may not convince the MMA world to stop bagging on Artem endlessly, it’s nice to see his coach standing up for him in the face of all that ruthless criticism.