Artem Lobov: Alex White and his “padded record” don’t deserve UFC spot

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While there was a lot of uncertainty about Artem Lobov’s UFC future following his loss to Ryan Hall at December 11’s TUF Finale in Vegas, news broke earlier today confirming that ‘The Russian Hammer’ will face Alex White at UFC 196 on February 6 at the MGM Grand.

Lobov claimed that while the featherweight clash with White is in place, he still feels his UFC career is hinging on an “exciting” and victorious performance at the February 6 event.

“There’s no talk of an actual contract, but you know yourself how it is in the UFC,” he explained. “If you’re winning and you’re exciting, you stay. If you’re boring and you’re losing, then you go and that’s it.

“We’ve seen this many times where people are given four-fight contracts and then they’re cut after one fight. That happened to Tom Egan. I remember at the time he got a four-fight contract and then he was cut after one fight. It all depends on your performances in UFC.

“My future is 100 percent riding on this fight. If I knock this guy out, that’s it, then I’m in. If I lose this one then I’m out and I can’t blame anyone but myself.”

According to Lobov, White is an ideal opponent for him given his size, his stance and his willingness to trade shots. Prior to his time in the TUF house, Lobov often spoke of athletes on the UFC roster who “didn’t deserve” their place on the roster. In his opinion, White is a man who fits that mould.

“It felt good to get the call and I was happy with the opponent that I got. He’s a guy that doesn’t mind standing up, he’s a southpaw and he’s a bit tall so it’s going to be a good one.

“He’s one of the guys that I’ve been talking about for a very long time. He’s a guy with a padded record, he went into UFC undefeated and now he’s lost two in the UFC. He’s a guy that didn’t deserve his shot. He didn’t earn it, he didn’t fight his way up.

“I don’t know why he got in there. Maybe it was his padded record, maybe it’s because he’s got the same surname as Dana, maybe they’re related–who knows? I certainly don’t but I’ll be looking to kick him out of there.”

He also highlighted that he believes White’s UFC tenure is riding on a win against him given that he has lost his last two bouts against Lucas Martins and Clay Collard. The American’s sole win during his time with the promotion came at his debut where he scored a first-round knockout against Estevan Payan.

“If he loses he’s definitely out. The situation is the same as mine, but I have a feeling that they want me there more than they want him.”

A lot of people wondered what division Lobov would fight in and although he still believes he will compete at both featherweight and lightweight, he is happy to be competing at 145 lbs – a bracket that he maintains is “buzzing” after the work of his teammate Conor McGregor.

“To be honest, I’ve had mixed performances at both weight classes, lightweight and featherweight, so I don’t feel much different. Like I’ve said before, I will definitely look to take fights in both weight classes in the future, but this is the offer that came in.

“Featherweight is a division that is buzzing at the moment thanks to Conor. It’s good to be part of this weight class, there are many good weight classes for me in this category,” he said.

And ‘The Notorious’ could be in Lobov’s corner on February 6, the Russian revealed.

“We’re in the process of talking about what’s going to happen, but don’t be surprised if you do see him in my corner. Obviously, it will depend on what type of commitments he has. He’s a busy man, but there is a big chance that he will be in my corner.”

Finally, Lobov spoke of his comfort in competing in Sin City having spent six months in Nevada in 2015.

“It’s back in Vegas so that’s no problem for me. Vegas is like a home to me at this stage. I spent six months living there last year. I’ve had neighbours drop by and ask me for sugar while I’m out there, so I have no problem fighting in Vegas.”

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