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Artem Lobov vs Cub Swanson - Why the "Conor" game doesn't suit everyone


 Artem Lobov vs Cub Swanson - Why The "Conor" game doesn't work for all
 Artem Lobov vs Cub Swanson - Why The "Conor" game doesn't work for all
As some clothes fit some person well, but others won’t, the same rule applies to fighting styles. And since styles make fights, here we are talking about Artem Lobov who fought and lost a decision to Cub Swanson.

The first factor that came to the table was the experience. Where Swanson edged Lobov by far. Patience, timing and measuring up were the name of the game before one of the fighters finds a rhythm to start delivering strikes and combos.

The second factor was the reacting speed. Where we had Swanson again initiating and reacting faster to the potential threats that Lobov could pose. Without undermining Swanson’s ability to take hits as well, Lobov, also known as “the Russian Hammer” is known to pack some stiff punches as well. Speed does make a difference, especially when it comes with superior timing and superior striking range (reach).

The only reason that this fight went to a decision was Lobov’s physical toughness. If something, Lobov can take a punch.  Amongst his abilities lies the ability to simply ignore being struck and resetting.

One of the X-factors that could have won Lobov the finish would have been absorbing and responding in a scrappy “fight in a phone booth” – low range, no place to go, minimal distance to stay and trade or clinch. Since amongst Lobov’s top weapons would be his hands, typical trademark of the SBG Camp(Conor McGregor, Gunnar Nelson), his best bet would have been to pair them up with his ability to take punishment and drag Swanson into that place in the first two rounds to get a referee-stoppage.

But since Cub Swanson is well known for being flowy and creative, hitting two strikes from the same side (right straight followed by right highkick as an example) and the agility to pull this kind of trick with a slightly lower-speed opponent.

Stiff legged Lobov
Since the first minutes of the fight, Swanson took a tactical approach towards the typical southpaw vs orthodox striking situation by attempting to control distance and setup via handfighting. His lead hand kept on measuring and controlling the leadhand of Lobov. Lobov’s low lead hand didn’t play his game, but did not nulify the effectiveness of this strategy. Swanson managed to space-measure with his leading hand unhindered while having a control over the actual space, paired with superior footwork.


Swanson leans on Lobov, as Lobov carries them both.
Lobov’s stiff, flat-footed, low-handed stance under the appearance of being an “unorthodox striker” just allowed the typical handfighting scenario to add up to the other weapons which brought Cub Swanson’s victory.

The experience in this type of fight made a difference starting from the first round.

Also from the first minutes, in the first clinch, Swanson proven that wrestling makes a difference in this match. His relaxed pressure over Lobov gave him breathing room as Lobov was carrying the weight of two people in a clinch while staying flatfooted and letting Swanson get a gas-tank edge in the clinch/wrestle situations.

A tall,  lowhanded without participation Artem Lobov.
Lobov’s reaction of lowering his leadhand and waiting for something to happen without an answer prepared gave the referees the feeling that he was not in control of the fight even if he was having the center of the cage, even if he won the first round.

Swanson had the space to impose his own rhythm, as Lobov stood waiting un his tall stance.

As Swanson was measuring up and stretching out in the first round, a typical thing for thaiboxers more than mma strikers, Lobov kept pushing the pedal in tiny feet pushes, not enough to create a threat, just like his colleague and sparring partner Conor did, with precision and medium volume to it.
In his attempts to cover up handfighting, Lobov kept raising his leadhand too high without achieving the purpose of handfighting – to touch, control the lead hand of the opponent and measure up a relative distance. Under the impression of winning short moments of the outside angle footwork game, he didn’t manage to be angled properly in order to land the “hammers” he had in his tool.

Swanson ducks to throw a leadhand hook
Swanson found the weakness in the stiff stance of Lobov. His straight-spine pose had the weakness of throwing mid-ranged punches and adjusting to bob-n-weaves or subtle head movement.

Everything from under kept Swanson safe while throwing his techniques, especially with his pressuring style adding to the mix and his specific angles.

Level changes did make a difference.

When Swanson was throwing something while lowering his stance, Lobov got to the receiving end of it most of the times.

After taking his back and squeezing even more of the gas-tank, Swanson took the second round over Lobov.

And from that point on, it all went downhill for Lobov.  Striking exchanges went wrong, he didn’t connect as he usually does, punishing his opponents, he was in difficulty in close-quarter situations and in the third round, Swanson was already taunting him as he was waiting for something to happen, while he knew he didn’t have the time to react, which is critical as the timing for a counterstriker.

Low-handed Lobov takes an elbow from Swanson
One of the thaiboxing classics, Orono vs Dekkers had a moment where Dekkers started interrupting Orono’s powerful left with a right-sided long-range elbow which landed before he could launch the powerful rear-hand, having a devastating effect on the initial striker.

Swanson had the advantage of speed, timing and footwork, allowing him to throw in flashy strikes in multiple scenarios during this match.

The same elbow against punch scenario took place as Swanson placed his right elbow strike just before Lobov could launch his rear hand. Noticeable in the third round, as Lobov’s gas-tank was pretty drained already, even if he fought valiantly to the decision, proving his resilience and determination which are two qualities of a fan-favourite figher. Add a granite chin to this mix, which he already has and some technical polishing of his issues and there it is: The next UFC star which gives us a fight to watch where the finish can come any moment.

On strategies employed by succesful southpaws, we can observe some of the typical situations where a southpaw gets the best out of his opponent, throughout having a look at Conor McGregor and Giorgio Petrosyan from kickboxing Glory / K-1 Max.

As we can observe, there are two kinds of southpaws. Natural southpaws (left handed) and tactical southpaws (right-handed or ambidextrous people who chose to use the southpaw stance).
Conor McGregor is a natural southpaw, while Giorgio Petrosyan is a tactical southpaw.

We can observe Conor’s technical perks when it comes to dealing with a taller-lankier opponent in his fight against Max Holloway. Same gym, same trainer, even sparring partners.

Conor backpedals covered up against Holloway
As Holloway launches a very long rearhand cross, McGregor backpedaled with safeties on.

When Conor backpedaled, his lead hand was still intercepting while his rear hand was covering his head and body flank. His high rear hand keeps him set up for countering or answering from that side or keeping himself away from direct impacts from kicks or overhands.


Conor handfighting Holloway
Also we can observe Conor’s smooth headmovement against rear hand crosses, which would have been a saver for Lobov against the rear hand of Swanson.

Conor hand always controlled the distance via leadhand following the opponent's leadhand while being prepared to follow-up with a straight left when he had the chance.



Subtle headmovement from Conor
His handfighting relies on having the control of his opponent’s lead hand while being prepared to interpose his lead hand in order to cover the visual cone of the opponent in order to land a rear hand straight/overhand straight.

The slight headmovement also saved the day on multiple occasions for Conor, especially when he didn't a significant reach advantage.

Conor’s footwork in this case involved striking from the inside after giving the feeling of the opponent that he is safe in the outside angle just before being hit. (something that doesn’t work unless having superior speed and practice – experience, timing – things which Lobov didn’t have as an edge in this fight).

Petrosyan against taller Kyshenko
Looking at Petrosyan, as a tactical southpaw, we can notice how he places the lead foot inside in order to allign his powerful lead jab with his usually squared-up opponent, while maintaining a distance.

He tends to allign both outside and inside, depending on the opportunities which arrise from the given scenario, having both hands as powerhands.
The advantage of a righthanded southpaw is that power can be present in both hands in a more balanced manner than in a natural’s stance (southpaw or orthodox), allowing Petrosyan to control by using his powerful lead hand hook to allign opponents into his pinpoint lefthand cross.

Petrosyan using his lead hand hook
The handfighting is slightly different, since Petrosyan is not centered around his rear straight, just like Conor. Also the bigger gloves deliver slightly different parameters to work with.
He steadies with his leadhand, but he can also use it from the handfighting pose as a short powerful jab or lead hook diving diagonally over the opponent’s shoulder with the right timing.


To conclude, the representative word of this fight was EXPERIENCE. The true factor which gave Swanson the win over Lobov. Lobov was sturdy, powerful, determined, but lacked the calm, rhythm and the eye to counter or smother a more seasoned striker. For now.

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