Artem Lobov has initiated legal proceedings against Conor McGregor
UFC star Conor McGregor is being sued by SBG Ireland teammate and longtime training partner Artem Lobov, who claims he was instrumental in the inception of McGregor's Proper No. Twelve whiskey brand but never received any profits.
Lobov, a former competitor in the UFC and who possesses a master's degree in finance, claims he helped create the business plan for the hugely popular alcoholic drink but was then phased out of the operation when it achieved global success.
Proper No. Twelve has recorded large revenues thought to be in excess of $1 billion but Lobov said in a recent interview that he had turned down a $1 million offer from McGregor because he was uncomfortable with receiving money from a friend with whom he has such close ties.
"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," Lobov told talkSPORT last month.
"I met all different whiskey distilleries. I called some and met some in person. I did my research and put a beautiful deal together.
"Once the deal was ready, I went to Conor and I said, 'Conor, I have the deal ready for you. This is going to be a billion-dollar deal, no messing here.'
"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."
While that may have been Lobov's stance at the time, however, it appears to have changed in recent weeks.
Dermot McNamara, a solicitor representing Lobov, confirmed in a statement that his client had launched legal proceedings against McGregor; a move which will potentially sever the relationship between the two men.
"My client is a retired professional fighter with a master's degree from DCU in finance and capital markets," McNamara said.
"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."
McGregor sold his stake in the whiskey brand along with two other shareholders for a combined fee of around $596 million.
A spokesperson for McGregor, Karen J. Kessler, denied reports that Lobov had a claim to the brand.
"Proper No. Twelve Irish whiskey was created, developed, branded and tirelessly promoted by Conor McGregor," she said.