UFC featherweight alum and The Ultimate Fighter 22 finalist, Artem Lobov has revealed that he played a pivotal role in helping Straight Blast Gym teammate, Conor McGregor forge out an idea to create his now blockbuster spirit, Proper 12 Irish whiskey.
Lobov, an alum of the UFC, as well as Cage Warriors and BKFC (Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship) – most recently featured professionally back in July of last year under the Mahatch FC banner in Ukraine, suffering a fourth round TKO loss against boxer, Denys Berinchyk.
Retiring from professional combat sports soon thereafter, Lobov, 35, revealed during a recent interview with TalkSport reporter, Jordan Ellis – how he had come up with the idea for his teammate, McGregor to enter the whiskey business, as well as revealing that Blanchardstown reporter, Peter Carroll would also be penning a biography of his career this year.
“The selling point of my book will be the Proper 12 whiskey story,” Artem Lobov said. “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 (McGregor).”
Lobov revealed that Game of Thrones actor and powerlifter, Hafþór Björnsson had approached McGregor about the possibility of releasing a vodka in his native Iceland, however, Lobov steered the Dubliner to consider entering the whiskey market instead.
“After the second (Nate) Diaz fight, me and Conor were in the gym and we were talking one day, and he says to me, ‘Artem, Thor (Bjornsson) – ‘The Mountain’ out of Game of Thrones – I was chatting to him, and he’s offered me to do my own vodka,” Lobov explained.
“‘He said, he was doing one in Iceland and now he’s offering me the chance to do one as well, it looks like a pretty good deal what do you think about that?’”
Artem Lobov, who previously studied finance in college, consulted a former colleague at a Radisson Blu hotel, urging McGregor to explore the possibility of releasing a whiskey.
“I said to him before you look any further, ‘Here’s what I know about Irish whiskey,’ I told him about my presentation in college. I told him about the dominance of Irish whiskey and all of that,” Artem Lobov said. “He (McGregor) said, ‘You go off and see what deal you can put together’ and I went on my way.”
“Lucky for me, when I was studying in college, I used to work in the bar at the Radisson Hotel and I had a friend who worked in the bar with me. We were just two 18-year-old kids. I obviously left and did my own thing but Ivan stayed working in hospitality and worked his way up to be general manager of a hotel.”
“He put me in touch with a man called Niall, of Classic Drinks, a top drink distribution company in Ireland,” Artem Lobov explained. “Niall was kind enough to meet me – at the Radisson actually, and he was very generous with his information. Once I got that information, I went on and met all different whiskey distilleries. I called some and met some in person. I did my research and put a beautiful deal together.”
Artem Lobov revealed he turned down a $1,000,000 cash gift from Conor McGregor for brokering the deal
After approaching McGregor and his representatives regarding the deal he had drawn up and brokered, Lobov revealed the former two-weight champion and UFC superstar had offered him $1,000,000 – which he in turn, turned down.
“Conor offered me $1,000,000 but I turned it down, I didn’t accept it,” Artem Lobov revealed. “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.’”
Set to release a book before the end of this year or at the beginning of 2023 – penned by the aforenoted, Carroll, Lobov remained coy on divulging too much information on his part in the establishing of Proper 12.
“With the whiskey, there was a bit more to the story about how that went about and what happened, but I don’t want to share that yet,” Artem Lobov said. “I’m hoping my book does well and I will tell the story in the book.”