The Slap Game: Artem Lobov vs. Paulie Malignaggi

Artem Lobov
(Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

What do you do when you want to fight someone, but you don’t really want to fight someone, at that moment? You slap them.

The Slap Heard ‘Round the World

Today, former UFC and current Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) featherweight, Artem “The Russian Hammer” Lobov got publicly slapped in the face by retired boxing welterweight Paulie “Magic Man” Malignaggi at a BKFC media event in New York, NY.

Malignaggi, a recent BKFC signee, has a well-worn beef with Lobov’s friend and training partner Conor McGregor. And, perhaps to goad McGregor into a Twitter spat, or perhaps to goad McGregor into a dolly-type-reaction, the Magic Man went after Lobov in front of about 200 live smartphones.

All of the online footage begins moments into the squabble, right before Malignaggi raises his hand to Lobov’s cheek. The most entertaining portion of the video showcases a verbal beatdown issued by Malignaggi. He repeatedly promises Lobov’s death while another former UFC fighter, and now BKFC ambassador, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, restrains him.

War of Words

Lobov attempts to fire back with his own insults, but Malignaggi expertly wins the verbal war in this round. Though, to be fair, Lobov was never the slick talker that Malignaggi is, or for that matter, that McGregor is. What he does do is speak frankly and efficiently, which is in direct contrast to Malignaggi’s verbose and hyperbolic rants.

In anticipation of BKFC 5, which features the debuts of both Lobov and yet another UFC featherweight, Jason Knight, the promotion decided to set up a media day wherein Lobov and Malignaggi could presumably talk a bit of trash and hype a future fight.

It seems their mission has been accomplished. Within hours of the altercation, social media feeds were littered with footage of the scrap. Videos covering about 30 different angles went viral. If someone edited all of the perspectives into one super video, it would look a lot like an episode of WWE’s “Monday Night RAW.

Hammer vs. Magic

For his part, Lobov spoke to some media members immediately following the incident and presented a calm but serious demeanor. When asked by Luke Thomas of Sirius XM’s Fight Nation where a knockout of Malignaggi would rank in his list of victories, the Russian Hammer responded much like an actual Russian hammer might if it could talk – with steely, measured, coldness. “That one is just for the soul,” said Lobov.

Malignaggi sounded off to the media as well and surmised that he probably should have slapped Lobov harder. He refers to his potential future opponent as a “punching bag with feet.”

Malignaggi explains that he “had to smack him.” “Now you’re kind of putting my manhood to the test by basically saying I shouldn’t be scared to challenge you here. So he caught a smack for it.”

Artem Lobov vs. Paulie Malignaggi

When these two undoubtedly toe the line, which is literally how every round in BKFC begins, we’ll see whose bare fist is mightier.

If their respective nicknames are any indication, the slap-heard-round-the-world could make for an interesting matchup between a brawler with heavy hands and a boxer with fancy footwork.

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