Artem Lobov, another member of the SBG Ireland team, fought the redoubtable Teruto Ishihara at UFC Fight Night 99. The Irish audience from Belfast came out large numbers to support the Russian-Irish fighter. From a distance Lobov seems to adopt a unilateral approach to fighting. His style, while heavily reliant on pressure, in reality integrates feints and angles that dramatically affect his overall performance. To defeat his opponents Lobov emphasizing economy of movement in combination with subtle tactics and techniques.
The most visually apparent aspect of Lobov’s game is his constant pressure, something non-specialized strikers like Ronda Rousey struggle with. Dominating the octagon’s center allows Lobov to both retain the offensive initiative and diversify his defensive options. His response to Ishihara’s take-down attempt in the first round highlights the defensive advantages of constantly forcing his opponent’s back into the fence. Faced with a double legged take-down, Lobov turns a sprawl into backwards lunge to escape both the take-down and the clinch. In contrast, whenever Ishihara showed an opening, Lobov could follow with a barrage of strikes while Ishihara struggled to find an escape route.
To make sure his pressure remains constant, Lobov pays careful attention to footwork. Similar to his sparring partners Conor McGregor and Gunnar Nelson, Lobov adopts a wider, sideways stance that facilitate lateral movements. Using small, quick steps, the Russian-Irish fighter cuts off attempts to circle out into the octogon’s center. Lobov also remains highly cognitive of foot placement during combination attacks, making sure to step his lead foot on the outside of his southpaw opponent’s lead foot when in the orthodox stance. After switching to southpaw in the second round he continued an aggressive approach to footwork by consistently sliding his leading right foot forward to deliver uppercuts, hooks, and straights.
The combinations used by Lobov relies on circular and straight attacks to find gaps in Ishihara’s defenses. H begins by pumping the jab to measure range and encourage his opponent to predict a straight forward style of attack. But when Lobov decides to strike with intent, the punches frequently appear from unorthodox angles and are circular in nature. Leading fist hammer hands and strikes originating from the hip increase the unpredictability of his attack patterns. The lack of angles created by his linear footwork means circular strikes, like upper cuts and hooks, become all the more effective.
Ishihara’s strong counters created an interesting match-up for Lobov’s pressure contingent fighting style. But because Lobov integrated a series of unorthodox attack patterns into his seemingly orthodox movements, he created substantial difficulties for Ishihara and eventually secured the decision win. The knockout power Lobov wields undoubtedly helped keep his opponent weary of pushing past him to secure the initiative. When Ishihara did attempt a frontal clash, Lobov simply stood his ground and hammered his opponent back against the fence before again sinking into his attack rhythm.
Author: Johan Vandeleuv