Artem Lobov announced his decision to retire from combat sports in July 2021 after suffering a loss in a bareknuckle fight against Olympic silver medalist and WBO lightweight champ Denys Berinchyk.
The former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight contender says coming to terms that hanging up his gloves (when he used them) was not an easy one, to say the least, because it’s something he’s been doing professionally for over a decade.
And while he didn’t exactly have a stellar record to brag about, Lobov takes pride in the fact that even in defeat he entertained and left it all in the cage or ring.
“The thing for me is this was a very big decision for me. I feel like I’m not going to be one of those guys that come back in and out of it. It was a decision that I thought about for a long time,” he said on The MMA Hour (via MMA Fighting).
“It was a difficult decision for me to make. I actually love fighting. I love this sport. I love this life. When I made that decision and it was like f*ck, this is it. It felt like all my dreams had [been] crushed. I know I have a lot of losses, but even when I lost sometimes, I was like this is just a minor setback. This is just a setback. I will get better. I will train harder. I will go again. I will try again, and I will come back and I will achieve the goals that I set out to achieve.”
When it came time to walk away, it was a hard realization for “The Russian Hammer” because to him it meant that he just wasn’t good enough to reach the goals he set out for himself in combat sports.
“So now this time when I retired, I had to come to this point where I said to myself, ‘Well, that’s it. You will not achieve those goals. It will not happen for you. You weren’t good enough. You didn’t manage to get where you wanted to get. This is it now for you as a fighter. Time to hang them up, Artem. Bye-bye.’ It was an emotional time for me.”
After making his UFC debut in 2015, Lobov competed just seven times for the promotion, amassing a paltry 2-5 record which ultimately led to his release after both parties agreed to mutually part ways. He eventually went on to score a huge win against former world boxing champion Paulie Malignaggi in a bareknuckle fight under the BKFC banner.
At 35 years of age, there is still time for Lobov to mount a comeback down the road, though it’s not lost on him that the older he gets the tougher it will be to fight at the highest level. Plus, the lingering possibilities of head trauma and CTE is something that stays in the back of his head.
Still, “The Russian Hammer” says he would return with no question if he can somehow lock down a fight against his bitter rival Zubaira Tukhugov, who is currently under contract with UFC. Of course, Lobov and Tukhugov have disdain toward one another stemming from the Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor rivalry, so it’s something Artem would love to handle before it’s all said and done.
Another way he would return to action is if any promotion, boxing or MMA, would offer him a seven-figure payday to do so.
“There’s only two ways that I go back and fight again,” Lobov revealed. “The [Zubaira] Tukhugov fight, that goes without retirement. I don’t care if I’m retired or not. I always want that fight no matter what. And if somebody wants to make my dream come true and offer me seven figures, then it’s going to change things up a lot,” he added.
“A lot of the issues I just mentioned for my retirement, they will not be playing as big of a part anymore. Seven figures could help you to set up your financial future for the family, and that’s a big thing for me of course and [would] open up a lot of doors as well. So I would consider coming back for those two reasons. Tukhugov fight or seven-figure payday.”
In all reality, there are only a handful of fighters who can command a seven-figure payday, especially in MMA. And while one should never say never, getting that kind of scratch without ever having held a major world title will be hard to come by.