Conor McGregor is sued by former friend Artem Lobov who claims HE came up with a whiskey brand

Conor McGregor is being sued by his former MMA friend Artem Lobov who claims he came up with the idea for the Irish star’s successful whiskey company.

The Russian fighter, 36, says he played a key role in the brand development of Proper No. Twelve but was then edged out of the business.

The spirit then took off, helping McGregor become the highest earning sports star in the world last year.

The UFC champion, 34, had a total income of £150million from May 2020 to May 2021 after he sold his stake in Proper No. Twelve with two fellow shareholders for a combined £500million.

But yesterday, his former teammate known as the ‘Russian Hammer’ launched his legal action in the High Court in Dublin.

Conor McGregor is sued by former friend Artem Lobov who claims HE came up with a whiskey brand

Conor McGregor is being sued by his former MMA friend Artem Lobov who claims he came up with the idea for the Irish star’s successful whiskey company (pictured together in 2015)

The Russian fighter, 36, says he played a key role in the brand development of Proper No.  Twelve but was then edged out of the business

The Russian fighter, 36, says he played a key role in the brand development of Proper No. Twelve but was then edged out of the business

He is expected to claim an agreement was in place giving him five percent of the proceeds McGregor received from the sale, according to the Irish Independent.

Lobov had previously claimed he was offered £850,000 by McGregor but refused it.

His solicitor Dermot McNamara said: ‘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 brands.

‘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.’

In August, Lobov said he came up with the idea for the whiskey brand while studying at university.

McGregor's former teammate known as the 'Russian Hammer' launched his legal action in the High Court in Dublin

McGregor’s former teammate known as the ‘Russian Hammer’ launched his legal action in the High Court in Dublin

He told TalkSport: ‘A few people know, but this was actually my idea. I was the person who came up with the idea to do a whiskey for Conor.

The fighter claimed McGregor was first approached by Icelandic strongman Hafþór Björnsson about starting a vodka business.

The Irishman then turned to Lobov because of his master’s degree in finance.

The Russian said he had learned about the Irish whiskey market at university and pitched the idea to McGregor, believing there was a gap in the market.

He said: ‘I said to him before you even look any further, ‘here’s what I know about Irish whiskey.’ I told him about my presentation from college. I told him about the dominance of Irish whiskey and all of that. He said, ‘you go off and see what deal you can put together’ and I went on my way.’

Lobov said he then got in touch with top drink distribution company Classic Drinks and visited different distilleries and put together a deal for McGregor.

The spirit took off, helping McGregor become the highest earning sports star in the world last year

The spirit took off, helping McGregor become the highest earning sports star in the world last year

But he said: ‘Conor offered me $1 million but I turned it down, I didn’t accept it. You know, throughout my career whenever I have helped Conor with camps, he offered to pay me for them camps, but I never accepted money from him.

I said, we’ve always been friends and helped each other. I never paid you for my camps so I’m not gonna accept money from you for my camps either’.’

McGregor later presented the first bottle of his new whiskey to Vladimir Putin at the 2018 World Cup final, accompanied by Lobov.

McGregor’s spokesperson Karen J Kessler said it was ‘incorrect’ Lobov had a claim to the brand.

She said: ‘Proper No. Twelve Irish whiskeys were created, developed, branded and tirelessly promoted by Conor McGregor.’

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