McGregor whiskey row with Russian teammate takes new twist
UFC star Conor McGregor promised training partner Artem Lobov that “5% is yours, no matter what” during initial discussions ahead of the launch of McGregor’s Proper No. Twelve Irish whiskey brand, it has been claimed by legal representatives of the retired Russian-born fighter in an Irish court.
Lobov, a one-time close friend of McGregor, has been embroiled in a legal dispute with the former two-division UFC champion which has recently spilled over into social media.
The row surrounds the appropriation of rights to the whiskey brand which was sold by McGregor and two other stakeholders to Proximo Spirits in 2021 for a sum in the region of $600 million.
McGregor is understood to have earned $130 from the deal, a figure which made him the highest-earning sportsperson in the world last year.
But Lobov is seeking the execution of an alleged oral agreement that he says was made by the pair in September 2017 at the SBG Ireland gym they both trained at in Dublin.
In an affidavit, Lobov said that he addressed the issue with McGregor at the gym and enquired as to why he had been excluded from ongoing discussions regarding the brand – which he claims he was pivotal in helping to establish in partnership with a distillery in West Cork.
Lobov claimed that after Audie Attar, head of the Paradigm Sports Management, and American businessman Ken Austin became involved in the project that he became “totally excluded” from discussions.
He said that he put this to McGregor and was told that he would be reintroduced to communicative discussions – something which he claims did not occur.
Lobov also said that several third parties observed McGregor make the 5% remark and that it was sealed with a handshake.
Despite allegedly being excluded from communications, Lobov said that he retained a role in the marketing of the brand, including assisting the arrangement of McGregor presenting a bottle of the whiskey to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the World Cup final in Moscow in 2018.
The court filing also details a claim that Lobov refused an offer of $1 million compensation from McGregor in May 2020, which he said was an unacceptable figure given the purported promise of 5%.
In response, McGregor’s solicitor, Michael Staines, said that his client denies Lobov’s claims.
He added that while Lobov supplied text messages to the court, he withheld one dated from February 2019 which said: “I swear on my child’s life I will NOT take a cent from the whiskey deal”.
It also emerged during recent proceedings that Lobov is seeking further legal punishment for McGregor on defamation grounds after the Dubliner referred to him as a “rat” in a social media tirade.