Part of the origin story of UFC star Conor McGregor is how he lived off Ireland’s social welfare program prior to his successful fighting career. This was before he entered the UFC in 2013 when he was collecting 188 Euros ($221) from the government.
Apparently, his close friend Artem Lobov chose to go the opposite route. As he said on the Tragedy Academy podcast he wanted to ‘make it or die trying’ when he decided to enter fighting after quitting a banking job.
“When I quit my job… because Ireland is a very developed country. Their social welfare system is very good,” he explained. “But when I quit my job, and I had no income coming in, I, on purpose, didn’t sign up for social welfare.
“I wanted to burn all my shit. I didn’t want it to be some safety cushion for me. I was like, ‘No, f—k it. Make it or break it. Make it or die trying.’ That was my mentality.”
“The Russian Hammer” did find some fame despite a lackluster record, likely primarily because of his association with McGregor. But he also explained his approach to fighting, which is different from many of his former peers.
“Especially nowadays, that’s become so big. People want to do it for the money or whatever. They think ‘Oh my god, look at all the money that’s coming in…’
“If that’s your motivation, just money to do fighting? You ain’t gonna make it. You’re not gonna succeed. It’s a crazy sport that you have to love,” Lobov said.
“For me, I couldn’t think of nothing else. I’d be working in the bank, I remember, and I’d be sitting in the bank dreaming of all my fights, how I’d be in the cage again. ‘I can’t wait to be in that Octagon, throwing shots and thinking about all the different sequences, and everything I’ve done in sparring and training and fights. I literally couldn’t think of nothing else.”
After three years in the UFC, the 35-year-old Lobov held a brief stint in bare-knuckle boxing before calling it quits in July 2021. In a January interview, he admitted he was “crushed” by the decision to retire, and at the time, even considered making a comeback.
But these days, he seemed to have found contentment in his decision.
“I could’ve gone back and try to start everything again, build it up again, take some fight,” he said. “ I probably would have had to take a bit of a pay cut, as well. And I was like, ’No, the risks are way too high for me to mess around with that.’
“I’m a father now. I want to be a good father, I want to be a capable father. I want to be a good grandfather one day. So I said, ‘OK, better cut my losses short here. Quit and concentrate and put my effort into something else.”’
Lobov ended his eight-year pro MMA career with a record of 13-15-1 (with 1 NC). As a bare-knuckle boxer, he went 2-2.