Artem Lobov surprised the MMA community earlier this week when he announced he signed a six-figure contract with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship.
The news came just a few weeks after Lobov was granted an unconditional release from Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Lobov, who has gained popularity over the years as Conor McGregor’s main training partner, competed in UFC from 2015-2018 while compiling a less-than-desirable Octagon record of 2-5.
As “one of the most successful fighters in the world” today, it was only a matter of time before Lobov landed with another combat promotion. But bare knuckle boxing? Is that really the next best move for “Russian Hammer?”
Former UFC middleweight champion and current color commentator Michael Bisping sure doesn’t think so and he’s here to tell you why.
“I think it is a bit of a backwards step, bare-knuckle boxing,” Bisping said on his Believe You Me podcast (via MMANews). “I do, it’s dangerous especially with bare-knuckle. Ultimately, I think it’s great though that these guys choose to do that under these rules and they go and get paid. They can continue to make a living and that’s what I’m in favor of.
“Do I think it’s a positive step forward for the sport? No, but there’s always been bare-knuckle boxing. That’s been around for a long, long time. It’s been around in England for a long time. Basically, since the inception of combat sports bare-knuckle boxing’s always been there. I’m just glad there’s a promotion like this.”
Bisping may have a point, but the Bare Knuckle FC brand is quickly growing here in the United States and the addition of a recognizable fighter like Lobov could help push the newly-minted promotion to it’s next level (whatever that may be). The addition of Anthony “Rumble” Johnson doesn’t hurt either.
Lobov, 32, will make his bare knuckle boxing debut against fellow UFC veteran Jason Knight on April 20 and have his chance to prove that he made the right decision. Should he discover that Bare Knuckle FC is in fact a step backwards in his combat career, “Russian Hammer” still has the ability to sign with any MMA promotion of his choosing.
What say you, Maniacs? Is Bisping right? Is this a step in the wrong direction for Lobov?