Artem Lobov, Paulie Malignaggi Engage in Baffling Confrontation at BKFC 5 Media Day

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The question isn’t “why?” but rather “why bother?” when it comes to Paulie Malignaggi getting into it with Artem Lobov at the BKFC 5 media day.

To MMA fans, Artem Lobov is the GOAT. The greatest of all time. Said with a wink and a nod. Sure, the meme has gotten tired, but the fact that the Russian SBG Ireland fighter embraced it gave it a little shot in the arm. Extended its life just a little bit.

See, Lobov (13–15–1 (1)) is a character in a sport desperately in need of them. That, and his association with Conor McGregor, earned him a seven fight stint in the UFC that saw him go 2-5. Yet he almost always entertained.

When Lobov decided to jump to bare knuckle boxing after being released by the UFC, it made perfect sense. Lobov likes to stand and bang. His biggest attribute is his toughness. A fight at BKFC 5 with Jason Knight, another former UFC featherweight, made all kinds of sense.

Then, somehow, Paulie Malignaggi inserted himself into the picture. Malignaggi, in another lifetime, was a decorated boxer who actually won a couple of titles. However, to MMA fans, he’s best known as that guy who sparred with Conor McGregor.

And lately, he’s become akin to that bad date who just won’t leave you be. Keeps calling, keeps texting, drives by your work.

Malignaggi, who had a decent enough gig as a boxing analyst, was approached by BKFC about some analyst work, only to sign on as a fighter. It’s widely expected that he and Lobov will meet in June, after the Knight fight. Either it gets booked win or lose, or someone is grossly overlooking Knight.

Either way, from the Malignaggi side, it seems little more than a ploy to land a fight with McGregor, something the boxer has pursued ever since the MayMac days.

Which makes it no surprise that Malignaggi tried to do a little “promoting” at the BKFC 5 media day, if you could call it that. The boxer opted to get in Lobov’s face, say a few words with the cameras conveniently close by, then slap the Russian.

Well, okay. If a minor assault is promotion, and in combat sports, fighters like to believe it sometimes is, it makes sense. Paulie Malignaggi’s words, however, did not. Take this perfect sequence: “I’m going to hospitalize you. You don’t understand. You’re going to get hurt,” the Brooklyn native says. Then, moments later, “don’t threaten me, don’t threaten me here, don’t threaten me here.”

Most logical people would assume that, when you say you’re going to hospitalize someone, you’re already threatening them. When they return fire, getting upset over it is… just baffling.

Later, as the two are separated, you can hear Malignaggi defend himself by saying he was just promoting. “I got in your face to promote.” Well, in case you weren’t sure…

Watching this scene (with Lobov simply offering to fight Malignaggi then and there, forget the PPV) evoked some of the worst boxing press conference brawls. The boxing world tends to celebrate those, where as Lobov’s old employers at the UFC at least tried to restrain them, which is why they feel so out of the ordinary when they do happen.

This wasn’t a brawl, though. Lobov barely seemed bothered.

In the end, however, the encounter seemed to do its job. You know Lobov has a fight coming up, if you didn’t already. You know that Malignaggi is waiting in the wings. You can be darn sure he wants a fight with McGregor still. He isn’t likely to get it, but can you blame him for trying? Well, yes. But too late.

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Editor at Cageside Press, Jay has been covering the sport of mixed martial arts for several years. His work has appeared on The MMA Corner, What Culture, Cage Pages, MMA News, Today's Knockout, and Fox Sports (via Fansided). Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.

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