CONOR McGREGOR’S pal Artem Lobov reckons his switch to bare knuckle fighting has paid off quite literally – and claims he earns more money than up to 95 per cent of UFC stars now.
The Russian-Irish featherweight made his name in the octagon but says taking the gloves off is paying big time, as his career earnings rocket.
A year ago he made the leap from MMA to take part in the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championships.
In one of the most talked-about contests of the year he fought former boxing champion Paulie Malignaggi, defeating the New York pugilist.
Lobov, 33, was left with a horrific eye injury after losing his last bare knuckle fight against Jason Knight, 27.
After showing off the gruesome wound on social media, he has now recovered and ready for his rematch with ‘Mississippi Mean’ Knight this weekend.
But he says he is much happier knowing he has not got to worry about where the next paycheck is going to come from.
He told mmafighting.com: “Don’t get me wrong, I’m very thankful for UFC.
“The reason why I’m getting all these offers is in large part because I was a UFC fighter and that’s where I made my name.
“Having said that, of course everybody wants to be champion, yes that’s good to be in the UFC but the thing is we all have families, we all have mouths to feed and we all need to provide.
“I’m able to do it a lot better outside the UFC than when I was in the UFC.
“I watch the pay disclosures after every card in the UFC and normally there’s one guy on the card who gets paid more than me.
“If there’s a big, huge card maybe there’s three or four.
“So I get paid more than 90 or 95 percent of the UFC fighters so I’m happy I’m in the position that I’m in.”
Lobov’s point about the majority of UFC fighters not getting paid enough is certainly a valid one.
McGregor is arguably the biggest name in UFC so understandably gets more.
The Irishman is said to have made $15m US (£11.5m) in 2015.
His 2017 boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather grossed an estimated $360m, with McGregor taking $85m.
UFC rivals Khabib Nurmagomedov and Nate Diaz have also earned much more than Lobov and the majority of UFC fighters.
Khabib is said to have picked up $2m for his controversial 2018 clash with McGregor, who earned $3m for that bout.
On the same bill, Tony Ferguson got $150,000 and Anthony Pettis claimed $145,000.
Nurmagomedov collected $6m for UFC 242.
Diaz has earned nearly $5m dollars in his career according to MMA Manifesto.
Lobov is thought to have banked $200,000 in his UFC career.
But his earnings from his year in bare knuckle fighting have eased his financial worries.
He said: “When you don’t have to worry about the financial side, you can truly concentrate on the craft.
“You can truly concentrate on the fights you really want to have.
“You have that freedom and it’s extremely important especially when you have a family and you have to provide.”
The Knight rematch will be the last in his scheduled deal with the BKFC, but plans are afoot to tie up a new contract.
He said: “To me, I think this time I really want to make it clear. I want to stop him.
I dropped him a few times in that first fight. I feel I was maybe a little too reckless and I blew my load a bit too soon
“I feel I can. I dropped him a few times in that first fight. I feel I was maybe a little too reckless and I blew my load a bit too soon.
“That was also my first bare-knuckle fight. I didn’t really know what to expect.
“But I think this time if I approach it a little bit more methodically, a little bit more technically, I can put this guy away. Then that will be clear. There will be no more questions.
“At the end of the day, this is a business and I want to see what else is out there in the market.
“This is going to be the last fight on my contract. [BKFC president] David Feldman already offered me a two-fight extension.
“So we will see how it goes but with me, if the opponent is not the most interesting for me, the money side has to be more interesting.
“We can always come to an agreement. I always make sure that I’m good to do business with. I always show up. I always make weight. I never pull out of the fights. I just make it enjoyable to do business with me.”
Lobov tried to set up a rematch with Malignaggi in the boxing ring and fight under the recent clash between YouTube sensations Logan Paul and KSI but that fell through.
He said: “I think me and Paulie boxing, that’s a fight in and of itself. That could be a main event on the card.
Latest UFC news
“It could sell pay-per-views. With the gloves on he could have more of a chance there but I feel I’ve been making good progress and that would make a good fight. So maybe we could do that next year.
“I will never get sick of whooping that guy’s ass. I’m happy to do that over and over and over again. People in the world seem to enjoy that also. Why not? I’m all for it. If an offer comes in, it will be a yes from me.”