Artem Lobov missed out on a chance to fight Zubaira Tukhugov at UFC Fight Night 138 after his opponent was suspended following an attack on his teammate Conor McGregor at UFC 229 earlier this month, but he’s still itching to square off against his rival.
So much so in fact that Lobov has claimed that if the UFC fires Tukhugov over the incident then he too wants to be released from his contract so that he can go and fight him elsewhere instead.
“If they cut him, I want to be gone as well,” Lobov said on ESPN’s Ariel Helwani MMA Show. “I will fight him in ACB, Bellator or any league he wants to do it. But I will get him.”
“It has to be done inside the Octagon. I want to look this man in the eyes, one-on-one. Once you’re inside that Octagon, it’s one-on-one. Your skill versus his skill. Your heart versus his heart. I want to test his heart in the Octagon. I want to see what he’s got.”
Before that can happen Lobov will have to go up against short notice replacement Michael Johnson in the main event of UFC Fight Night 138 on Saturday night, but in his heart it’s Tukhugov that he really wants to fight.
“I’m only doing this (against Johnson) because I was already ready to go and I haven’t fought in a year. For many reasons, I have to take this fight,” Lobov said. “But make no mistake, I want Zubaira.
“We need this win, but I don’t feel the pressure. To me, this is one step closer to getting Zubaira back. There is nothing else on my mind. That’s the only thing I can even think of. I’m not going to rest, I’m not going to sleep, until I get him back.”