Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship put Artem Lobov and Paulie Maglinaggi in the same room on Tuesday and fireworks followed. Lobov, a teammate and close friend of former UFC champion Conor McGregor, exchanged words and shoves with Malignaggi, who previously held boxing world titles in two divisions.
Lobov headlines Saturday's BKFC 5 event from the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Mississippi against fellow former UFC fighter Jason Knight.
"Without disrespecting Jason Knight, because we'll see what happens Saturday, but I think everyone here would like to see Malignaggi vs. Lobov. I see that it's picking up traction and fans in general are talking about it," Malignaggi said. "When I get Lobov in the ring, the goal is not just to win. I have to really excel and show something more. The goal would be to hurt him bad."
When McGregor was preparing to face Floyd Mayweather in the boxing ring, he brought in Malignaggi to spar. Video was released of "Notorious" knocking Malignaggi down which prompted several back-and-forth verbal battles between the two camps.
"I'm a real fighter and I'm going to fight Paulie in a real fight. I want to make money for it. He knows I'm down. If you're a real fighter, let's fight in the ring," Lobov said. "Paulie was always the fight I wanted. It's 'night night' for Jason Knight this Saturday, then it's on to Paulie. That's the only fight I want. He deserves to get slapped around."
Anthony Johnson, who joined the promotion in an executive role earlier this year, was part of the group that separated Lobov and Malignaggi.