The Russian Hammer has been best pals with the Irish superstar since the early days
ARTEM LOBOV hatched the £100m plan for the battle between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather in 2015, so we should listen to his latest fight prediction.
The Russian Hammer is McGregor’s Straight Blast Gym MMA team-mate, his most trusted sparring partner and loyal friend for almost eight years.
If the MMA icon is absent from Lobov’s corner for the clash with Cub Swanson on Saturday, it will only be because the Irishman’s is about to become a dad.
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And mini-McGregor will have an adopted uncle in Lobov, the man who got the ball rolling in the biggest cross-over fight in sporting history.
Lobov told SunSport: “I know exactly when it happened, it was when me and Conor were on a world tour after he won his first world title.
“We were just talking and I just said ‘Mayweather is the fight to make, you can beat this guy, just imagine how huge that fight could be.
“I am not sure if Conor took me seriously or not but now the fight is happening and I feel great.
“It is unbelievable, to be honest, I have so much respect for Conor, he is the only one who dares to go after the impossible so I am just thankful to be on the journey with him.
“Now getting the win at the same time the baby comes along would be absolutely incredible.
“It would be great to have Conor in the corner but, make no mistake, we have done all the hard work. It is with me, it is in my head and it is in my heart.”
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Lobov – a Russian hardman with a hint of an Irish accent – relocated to Nashville two weeks before his clash with the UFC’s No4 ranked lightweight.
The 30-year-old wanted to acclimatise to the time difference, the heat and the local restaurants to reduce Swanson’s home advantage.
The move has meant his usual training camp with McGregor was cut short – especially with the Irish star partying hard in Liverpool for the Grand National.
But Lobov insists he and his comrade are leaving nothing to chance and have combined to map out their paths to success – with time set aside to party.
He said: “Conor is not marketing himself, he is not sitting at home coming up with marketing plans. Conor is just being Conor.
“This is the way he has been from the start.
“I am telling you, the first time I walked in the gym seven or eight years ago, he used to walk in without a penny in his pocket and act like he owned the place.
“That’s just him, he is being himself.
“People learn the wrong things from him. People think they need to be outspoken and start calling people out. But the message is: Be yourself.
“He was in Liverpool on business and – like a true businessmen – he is able to combine business and pleasure.
“Make no mistake, he started getting ready for Mayweather a long time ago.
“Everything is written out, the plan is in place.
“If he went out for a little party in Liverpool then he has planned for it.
“You can’t be grinding in the gym 24-7, sometimes you need to relax and enjoy yourself. A happy fighter is a dangerous fighter.”