Prior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look at the main event of UFC Fight Night 108 as Artem Lobov appears in his first main event against veteran Cub Swanson.
Artem Lobov (Record: 13-12, +525 Underdog, Power Ranking: D)
The Russian Hammer and training partner of “The Notorious” Conor McGregor first appeared in the UFC as a participant on TUF 22. Lobov made the final of the season, but he lost to Ryan Hall by decision. He’s currently on a two-fight winning streak, including his best win to date, a decision over Teruto Ishihara at UFC Fight Night 99.
The self-proclaimed prospect killer is an entertaining fighter that has certainly shown improvements in recent fights. Most notably his movement has improved significantly as it appears that training with McGregor has paid off. His footwork is much better and he’s been able to move in and out of the pocket. With that said, he doesn’t do a great job of protecting himself and takes more strikes (3.18 significant strikes per minute) than he’s able to land (2.67 significant strikes). He does have a pretty good chin as he’s only been knocked out once in his career. Lobov’s level of competition is questionable though, as he’s yet to face any proven strikers.
Cub Swanson (Record: 24-7, -750 Favorite, Power Ranking: B+)
The longtime Jackson’s MMA product is a veteran of both the WEC and the UFC. He’s fought the top featherweights in the world including Jose Aldo, Frankie Edgar and Max Holloway. He’s won his last three bouts overall, most notably his victory over Doo Ho Choi that was widely considered the best fight of 2016.
The featherweight contender holds a black belt in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and judo. While he certainly is accomplished in the submission game, where he truly excels in MMA is with his striking. Swanson has really good footwork, and he combines that with an excellent striking arsenal. He has some of the best hands in the division. He strikes well in combination, landing to both the body and the head. He’s got a really good MMA mind when it comes to his striking as well. He’s creative, yet calculated, and is certainly capable of finishing, with 15 of his 24 wins coming inside the distance. While Swanson is capable of securing takedowns, it is not a focal point of his fighting strategy. What Swanson wants to do is strike, and if he’s able to do so, he’ll be successful in nearly all of his fights.
Lobov headlines a UFC card for the first time when he takes a serious step up in competition to take on Swanson. This is going to be a real difficult matchup for Lobov, as he’s facing a more talented, more skilled and more seasoned fighter, and a much better striker in Swanson. The Jackson’s MMA product has an extensive boxing background and shouldn’t be troubled by Lobov’s movement or striking skill set. I expect this to be an entertaining bout, as both fighters will look to engage. Hand speed will play a big part in this fight, as Swanson will be able to engage and land faster than Lobov can. Swanson proved in his last fight with Choi that he’s willing to get in a brawl and has the chin to back it up. Ultimately, he’s battle-tested and will be able to handle anything Lobov has for him. It’s hard to back any fighter as a -750 favorite and given the over / under set at 3.5, there’s not much of an angle to take with this fight. Lobov is durable enough to survive a few rounds, so a total is tough to play. However, I believe Swanson will get the best of the striking in each round and at a minimum win a wide decision on the cards. The point’s handicap hasn’t been released yet, but it’s the line I’ll be looking to target in this bout.