UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor WILL return to MMA to defend his belt, according to sparring partner Artem Lobov.
The Russian – speaking ahead of his featherweight bout with Andre Fili on Saturday – also declared how the Irishman would easily knock out Paulie Malignaggi.
McGregor – who hasn’t featured inside the Octagon since ripping away the 155lb title away from Eddie Alvarez last November – looks poised to return to the steel cage.
Speaking exclusively to SunSport, Lobov – close friend of ‘The Notorious’ – revealed there is no way the 29-year-old will give up his belt.
When asked whether he would face interim lightweight champ Tony Ferguson, he said: “No matter what people say about Conor, money fight this, money fight that, he never actually took a money fight.
“Every fight that he has taken made sense, he cleaned out the whole featherweight division so then he moved onto bigger things.
“Now that the Mayweather challenge is out-of-the-way he is back to doing what he does, he is the lightweight champion and he isn’t planning on letting go of that belt anytime soon.
“So I’m sure that he wants to defend that belt.”
However, on Tuesday, former two-weight boxing world champion Paulie Malignaggi claimed his team were in talks with McGregor about a bout inside the squared circle.
The two infamously fell out in camp when the American was a sparring partner of McGregor in preparation for his fight with Floyd Mayweather.
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And Lobov has revealed that the 36-year-old doesn’t stand a chance against the former featherweight champion.
He added: “In terms of Paulie Malignaggi, that would really be – forget about a money fight – if he was to take that, that would be just a feel-good fight, slap the crap out of some loud-mouth that didn’t really do anything, just talks.
“I don’t think that would happen to be honest, Malignaggi doesn’t deserve that fight, he hasn’t done anything to earn that fight from Conor.”
Speaking of the sparring, Lobov said: “I was there, and that is why I am so reluctant to see that fight because I’ve already seen Malignaggi get his head slapped off him, so why the f**k would I want to see it again?
“I know already what happens in that fight.”
Lobov – part of the UFC Fight Night 118 bill in Poland this weekend – is relishing a match-up against American opponent Fili, with McGregor due to be in the attendance in Gdansk to cheer on his stablemate.
The 31-year-old said: “I’m looking forward to the fight of course, I love fighting very often. Andre Fili I expect to be a very good fight, he is a pretty good fighter, he likes to stand, unlike many tall guys he actually comes forward – he is actually quite aggressive.
“So I think that’s going to make for a great match-up and we’re going to give the fans a great show on Saturday night.
“For now all I have to concentrate on is winning and getting the finishes. I’m not in a position to just get anything yet after one win.
“So even this one win isn’t really going to do much for me in terms of rankings. So for now I just concentrate on fighting – concentrate on putting my hands on his chin – and I think the rest will take care of itself.
“I always go for the knockout. To me whenever I fight, I always approach it the way as that I am on a night out with my girlfriend and a guy just insulted her and I have to kick his head off.”
Watch UFC FIGHT NIGHT®: COWBOY vs. TILL live on BT Sport from 8pm BST on Saturday October 21st or catch the Prelims exclusively on UFC Fight Pass from 4.30pm BST.
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