Artem Lobov and Paulie Malignaggi had to be separated Tuesday at a media event in New York.
The two men were both at Mendez Boxing gym in Manhattan for a Bare Knuckle FC media day. Lobov fights fellow UFC veteran Jason Knight in the main event Saturday night in Biloxi, Miss. But Lobov and Malignaggi have been going at it in the media and things popped off Tuesday in person.
The two men came face to face and it appeared that Malignaggi slapped Lobov in the face. The two fighters had to be pulled apart, Malignaggi was dragged away by Anthony Johnson, the former UFC slugger and current BKFC employee.
Lobov told MMA Fighting just minutes after the altercation that he was asked by Bare Knuckle FC promoter Dave Feldman to not get physical with Malignaggi present. Lobov said he gave his word.
When the two came face to face, Lobov said Malignaggi even said “no hands” repeatedly.
“He himself was saying, no, no, no,” Lobov said in a phone interview. “And then he just got a little cheap shot in. That’s the only way he can f*cking get hands on me, a cheap shot. But whatever. F*ck it. Does he think that’s gonna upset me? I’m a f*cking fighter. I walk through head kicks, you think I’m gonna give a f*ck about that? Whatever, brush it off, move on. Let’s go, let’s see what you got when we actually square off in the ring.”
Lobov was famously slapped by Khabib Nurmagomedov in April 2018 before UFC 223, prompting Lobov’s close friend and longtime teammate Conor McGregor to fly from Ireland to Brooklyn with dozens of men in an attempt to engage with Nurmagomedov. McGregor ended up getting arrested for throwing a dolly through a bus window in a now infamous scene.
Lobov said he doesn’t expect anything like that to happen to Malignaggi. The two are expected to fight for Bare Knuckle FC in June, if Lobov gets past Knight.
“I need Paulie,” Lobov said. “I need him wrapped up in bubble wrap. I need him there on June 22, that’s when the provisional date has been set. That’s when I need him. That’s when we get to go at it. Then, we’ll see what happens.”
On Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, Malignaggi, a former two-division boxing champion, told Luke Thomas that he feels like he would need to really hurt Lobov in their fight in order to prove a point. Lobov laughed that off.
“Let’s look at the facts,” Lobov said. “Look at his fights. Who did he do damage to other than himself? He is a jabber. He just jabs, jabs, jabs, jabs. That’s all he ever f*cking does. He didn’t put guys away, ever. He has no knockout power, his hands are fragile, always f*cking broken. He’s old now and fat and lazy. The only reason he’s coming back is because he’s broke as f*ck. So what is there to fear? That’s it — nothing.”
Lobov, 32, lost three in a row in the UFC before asking for his release last year to take a more lucrative offer with BKFC. Despite his 13-15-1 (1 NC) career record in MMA, Lobov is a massive fan favorite for his exciting fights, durability and relationship with McGregor’s SBG Ireland team. Knight, 26, is also a UFC veteran. Lobov will need to beat him in order to earn that big Malignaggi payday, but he said he doesn’t feel any burden.
“There is no pressure on me, man,” Lobov said. “I absolutely love the fight game. I truly love fighting, so how can there be pressure for me when I absolutely love it? When the fight actually happens for me, I treat it like a holiday. That’s my little holiday from every day life. So, I look forward to it. Every day for me, that’s work. The actual fight itself is great.”
And getting to fight Malignaggi in a few months? That would be even sweeter, “The Russian Hammer” said.
“He’s just one of those whiners that you’d just love to punch in the face,” Lobov said. “It’s gonna feel so good to feel my bare knuckles on his jaw.”