Paulie Malignaggi has taken his rivalry with former UFC fighter Artem Lobov to an all-time high over the past few months, but it’s all in effort to land a potential fight with true nemesis and former sparring partner Conor McGregor.
Malignaggi, who signed with Bare Knuckle FC last month, is now scheduled to make his bare knuckle boxing debut against Lobov this summer. While Malignaggi already put his hands on “Russian Hammer” when he slapped him during a media event earlier this month, the former boxing champion will officially lock horns with McGregor’s main training partner at BKFC 6 on June 22 in Manchester, New Hampshire (via MMA Fighting).
With their grudge match set in stone, Malignaggi has now decided to weigh in on Lobov’s BKFC debut earlier this month in Mississippi, in which “Russian Hammer” captured a hard-fought decision win over fellow UFC veteran Jason Knight in one of the best brawls you’ll ever see. While Malignaggi acknowledges the level of excitement that was attached to that main event showing he’s still reluctant to respect the striking skills of Lobov.
“I thought it was an exciting fight, but honestly, it made me wonder how I’m not gonna hurt this guy,” said Malignaggi during a recent interview with reporter Helen Yee. “I have to really wonder, I have to really be worried that I’m gonna hurt this guy badly. He’s very, very limited. It was a pitiful, pitiful display. It was exciting, but it was a pitiful display of combat sports ability and skills.
“The reason I was uncharacteristically quiet [afterwards] is because I thought the promotion was definitely ruined. I thought that now people would know just how bad he is, just how limited he is, and no one would want to watch this fight. But thank God for the dumbest fans in the world. Mixed Martial Arts fans always come through, and when I started seeing the comments on social media I thought, ‘Thank God they exist because if not for these people, this fight would not be able to sell.’ Anybody with a brain understands this is a very big mismatch.”
Taking a shot at MMA fans probably isn’t the best way to attract interest for his upcoming clash with Lobov, but Malignaggi doesn’t really seem to care about any of that. Instead, the former WBA lightweight champion is simply trying to lock down a future meeting with McGregor and ultimately save face from a highly-public sparring session with “Notorious” back in 2017, which is profiled in the above media player.
Unfortunately for Lobov, he’s standing in Paulie’s way.
“Once I put his boy in a coma, he’s gonna want to fight me,” Malignaggi said of McGregor. “If he’s any kind of man, he would. So once I do that in June, he will want to fight me, but the conversation doesn’t even get initiated unless 12 rounds of sparring, unedited, the way it actually happens, comes out. If it doesn’t, then Conor doesn’t even start the conversation.”
As for his actual matchup with Lobov, Malignaggi doesn’t see it being all that competitive. Despite recording just seven wins by way of knockout or TKO through 44 professional boxing bouts, Malignaggi is convinced he’s going to do ever-lasting damage to “Russian Hammer” when the two meet this June.
“If Artem doesn’t have a corner that cares about him, he’s gonna get hurt,” Malignaggi concluded. “He’s gonna get very badly hurt. This is boxing, this is not mixed martial arts. Not to disrespect mixed martial arts but in boxing, people die. People get traumatic brain injuries in one night. This is not mixed martial arts where they’ve had as many traumatic brain injuries since the inception of the sport as boxing gets in one year. This is mainly head strikes and Artem doesn’t know how to defend himself.
“I’m telling you right now, if they don’t pull him out of this fight in the correct way, he’s going to get hurt. He’s going to get permanently hurt. This is actually a very professional fighter against a guy who basically belongs in a tough-man show.”
What say you, Maniacs? Is Malignaggi really going to run through Lobov? Would McGregor ever sign the dotted line for a grudge match with “Magic Man?”