Artem Lobov: Conor McGregor Won't Change Style for Nate Diaz Rematch

Artem Lobov punches Ryan Hall UFC

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Artem Lobov has been a mainstay in Conor McGregor's camps ever since his early days as a professional.

Currently, Lobov is set to square off against Nate Diaz's teammate Chris Avila when the Stockton native meets 'The Notorious" for the second time at UFC 202 Aug. 20. Ahead of the bout, Lobov admits that a star-studded visit from soccer giant Cristiano Ronaldo was good for boosting morale ahead of their date at the T-Mobile Arena.

On Ronaldo

"I didn't know he was going to walk in," Lobov said. "Conor had told me before that they had been messaging each other on Instagram. Next thing I know, he just walked into the gym. It was really cool.

"He's in some serious shape as well. When he took his t-shirt off, I was like, 'Holy f*ck!' He's a really cool guy, it was just like a normal conversation you would have with anyone else."

Although the soccer superstar invited the team to Jennifer Lopez's birthday party later that night, Lobov, as a former ballet dancer, felt it was important that he didn't join in on the festivities for the good of his fighting career.

"If she saw me dancing, she may have offered me a career away from fighting, so I didn't want to take the risk!" he laughed.

New Mood in Camp McGregor

There seems to be a different mood in the McGregor camp this time around. Usually, McGregor spends time in California before heading to Vegas, but for this camp, his team headed straight to Sin City to prepare for the fight.

With specific training partners like jiu-jitsu ace Dillon Danis and amateur boxing standout Conor Wallace being brought in to prepare for Diaz's threats, Lobov confirmed that the team has been able to better prepare the UFC featherweight champion for Diaz this time around.

"Last time, when we looked at Diaz, we thought he had the perfect style for Conor," Lobov said. "He just boxes. He doesn't wrestle. He doesn't kick. When you look at the fight, Conor was landing with everything for a long time."

However, camp McGregor overlooked one key aspect of Diaz's game.

"One thing we didn't take into account was how tough Diaz is," Lobov said. "It's a massive part of the fight game, and it's not something that you can really train for. We've factored that in this time and it's back to business. We're training our asses off and making sure the same mistakes won't happen in this rematch."

Same McGregor, More Stamina


During a recent Periscope Q&A session, McGregor's coach, John Kavanagh, predicted that McGregor would finish Diaz in the fourth round of their rematch, which led many to believe that the Irishman would return to his old amateur boxing roots to attempt to pick his opponent apart.

As far as Lobov is concerned, there is absolutely no need for McGregor to change his style. Yet, to allow him to wear down his infamous opponent, the Dubliner has been working on his stamina ahead of the contest.

"If I was forced to make a prediction I'd say Conor will finish him towards the end of the second or maybe in the third round," Lobov said. "Conor is definitely not going to change his style. His style has proven very successful over many fights…He's good at what he does and he's going to stick to it."

As far as his coach's prediction of a fourth-round finish, Lobov believes Kavanagh is simply giving credit to Diaz, not taking anything from McGregor.

"The prediction John made is based on how tough Diaz is, rather than Conor changing anything, but I think he's giving him a lot more credit than he deserves," Lobov said. "Conor hits too hard and nobody can take his punches if he can keep on delivering them."

Specifically, Lobov believes their first match at UFC 196, which McGregor lost via rear-naked choke, was actually in their favor right up until its final moments.

"Diaz was on his way out towards the middle of the second round, but Conor blew all of his gas," Lobov said. "It doesn't matter how skillful you are when that happens, if you have no gas you can't do anything. It's like having a Ferrari parked in the garage with no petrol in it.

"We're going to make sure he can go 20 rounds with Diaz if that's what's needed. He already has all of the skills and that's the hard part. The easy part is adding cardio, and that's what he has done."


By Peter Carroll

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