Proper Nasty | 

Conor McGregor brands Artem Lobov a ‘rat’ over whiskey court case

Lobov (36), a long-time training partner of McGregor (34), alleges he was instrumental in developing the brand that became Proper No. Twelve but ended up squeezed out as the spirit took off.

Lawsuit: Artem Lobov celebrates a UFC win with Conor McGregor in 2016. The two men are involved in a legal dispute, with the Russian fighter suing McGregor after claiming he came up with the idea for the Irish MMA star’s whiskey brand. Photo: Brandon Magnus© Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Neasa Cumiskey and Shane PhelanSunday World

Conor McGregor has branded his former pal Artem Lobov a “rat” after it emerged that the retired Russian fighter was suing McGregor for millions over his whiskey brand.

Lobov (36), a long-time training partner of McGregor (34), alleges he was instrumental in developing the brand that became Proper No. Twelve but ended up squeezed out as the spirit took off.

He previously claimed he was offered $1m (€970,000) by McGregor but turned it down.

Lobov initiated his High Court action earlier this week, and it is understood he will claim an agreement existed entitling him to 5pc of the proceeds McGregor got from the sale.

Responding to the legal action on Twitter, McGregor shared a ten second voice note in which he repeatedly chanted: “Artem is a rat, na na na na hey!”

The short clip received mixed responses from followers in the comments section after the Dubliner published it on Saturday afternoon.

Many sided with Lobov, with one person writing: “Not cool, dude sacrificed years of his life hard sparring with you so you could reach your success level and you couldn't throw the guy a few quid? Bad mate.”

Another said: “Yet you almost went to prison for Artem. Give the man what he’s owed and move on. If he hasn’t did all the leg work for the whiskey deal you’d be 600 million less rich. You know you owe him something”.

But others remained loyal to McGregor, with one fan defending the UFC star: “Conor did so much for Artem and this is how he says thanks…man risked jail for him, that’s loyalty and nothing else.”

Another added: “Artem Lobov owes everything to you.”

Earlier this week, Lobov’s solicitor, Dermot McNamara confirmed that High Court proceedings had begun.

He told The Irish Independent: “My client is a retired professional fighter with a master’s degree from DCU in Finance and Capital Markets. We have issued High Court proceedings on his behalf to enforce an agreement with Mr McGregor regarding the Proper No. Twelve whiskey brand.

“My client was the initial creator and co-founder of the concept to launch an Irish whiskey brand associated with Mr McGregor.

“As these matters are now before the court, we will not be making any further comment.”

The suit, which will be contested by McGregor, is likely to end up in the High Court’s big-money commercial wing because its value could amount to several million euro.

In an interview in August, Lobov said he came up with the whiskey brand idea after studying the whiskey market in university.

He told Talksport radio he and McGregor first discussed the idea during a gym session.

According to Lobov, McGregor originally toyed with developing a vodka brand in Iceland. But Lobov said he dissuaded him from doing so, believing an Irish whiskey brand to be a better bet because there was a gap in the market and scope for growth.

He said that, on McGregor’s instruction, he held talks with distilleries and “put a beautiful deal together”.

According to Lobov, at this point, McGregor got his US sports management company Paradigm involved. The whiskey was launched in 2018, with McGregor later revealing he presented the first bottle to Russian president Vladimir Putin at the World Cup final.

McGregor was accompanied at the game by Lobov.

He initially planned to call it “Notorious” but after a trademark row changed the name to Proper No. Twelve in a nod to his Dublin 12 home.

More than six million bottles were sold in the first two and a half years of business.

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