Court rules in favour of Conor McGregor and dismisses MMA fighter Artem Lobov’s action

Justice Garrett Simons said that he was not satisfied that the statements made by Mr McGregor on social media where Mr Lobov is called ‘a rat’ are ‘clearly defamatory’

The High Court has rejected an application by retired MMA fighter Artem Lobov for orders requiring Conor McGregor to take down allegedly defamatory social media posts about the Dublin-based Russian.

In his ruling Mr Justice Garrett Simons, said that he was not satisfied that the statements made by Mr McGregor on social media where Mr Lobov is called “a rat” are “clearly defamatory.”

To call a person a rat without more does not fulfill the definition of defamation, the judge held, before he dismissed the application for various orders against Mr McGregor.

Mr Lobov had sought orders including an injunction requiring Mr McGregor to remove the material from his Twitter account.


Mr Lobov claims that he has been the subject of a barrage of harassing, intimidating and defamatory posts by McGregor on his Twitter account.

Mr McGregor had opposed the application.

Mr Lobov claims that the most damaging post about him on Mr McGregor’s Twitter account, @The NotoriousMMA is where he is allegedly referred to in a song sung by Mr McGregor as being a “rat”.

The High Court heard that Mr Lobov claims that the defendant’s posts about him arise from other legal proceedings brought by him against Mr McGregor over a purported multi-million Euro whiskey deal.

Mr Lobov had sought an order under Section 33 of the 2009 Defamation Act prohibiting Mr McGregor from publishing any further posts similar to those allegedly published by Mr McGregor on Twitter on November 26th last.

The 36-year-old Russian national had also sought an order requiring the defendant, or any other person who has notice of the proceedings to cease and desist from making any similar posts on social media to those complained of.

Mr Lobov further sought an order requiring the defendant to take down and remove any of the allegedly defamatory posts on Twitter or on any other form of social media.

The judge said in his ruling said that he was satisfied that Mr Lobov had failed to meet the first limb of the legal test required that would allow the court grant an order under Section 33 of the 2009 Defamation Act against Mr McGregor

Mr Justice Simons said Mr Lobov claims that by being called a rat meant that the plaintiff was an informer, person who betrayed some body, a person who reveals confidential information, and a person who double crosses.

The statement complained of in this case appeared on the Twitter account of “a world famous” MMA fighter, about another MMA fighter now retired from competition, he said.

“Trash talking” is part of that activity, the judge said, adding that Mr Lobov was aslo the subject of various insults, including being called a rat that were posted on the Twitter account.

The judge that he was not satisfied that a read of this post would give the same meaning to the word rat as claimed by Mr Lobov’s lawyers in their letter of complaint to the defendant.

It was for more likely that a reader would see the tweets as “part of a rant by a trash talking MMA fighter,” he said.

The term rat was merely one of “a series of pejorative terms” applied to Mr Lobov, and was “not necessarily even the most insulting.”

The judge added that the word ‘rat’ when used in isolation is no more than a term of vulgar abuse.

More is required in order to succeed in a defamation action, the judge said.

Mr Lobov he said had not pursuaded the court that that the tweets complained about are clearly defamatory, and there was no reasonable basis for apprehending that the tweets would injure Mr Lobov’s reputation ino the eyes of reasonable members of society.

“No reasonable member of society would attach any significance to these tweets,” he added.

Mr Justice Simons also added that while he was of the belief that Mr McGregor was entitled to recover his costs of the application, he would hear the parties as to the question of costs in January.

Opposing the application Mr McGregor’s lawyers claimed that the injunction application was “wholly unsustainable”, raised issues concerning the freedom of speech and expression and that there were other alternative remedies available to Mr Lobov.

Mr Lobov claimed that the defendant has no defence to the application, and that the orders sought by the plaintiff should be granted by the court.

In his action Mr Lobov claimed that on November 26th last several posts were put on Mr McGregor’s account by way of voice note where it is alleged the defendant sings “Artem is ra-at nah nah nah nah, hey, nah nah nah nah hey rat” repeated 12 times.

The defendant has also allegedly referred to Mr Lobov as being a rat in other posts, posted between late November and December 15th last on his Twitter account, which has 9.7 million followers.

The court also heard that a picture of Mr Lobov superimposed on a packet of raw sausages was also posted on Mr McGregor’s Twitter account.

In other messages posted on the account it is claimed that Mr McGregor calls Mr Lobov a little blouse, a turn coat, an uncooked sausage, makes references to court proceedings the parties are in, and challenges the plaintiff to a fight.

Mr Lobov also claims that as part of the campaign against him on Twitter and Instagram Mr McGregor’s father Tony McGregor also sent him pictures of a rat, a snake and rats.

Mr Lobov sought an undertaking from Mr McGregor to cease and desist from posting such material.

Mr Lobov’s lawyers claimed they had received no reply from the defendant.

The court heard that the parties have known each other for many years, and had been close friends and sparring partners.

In proceedings that came before the Commercial Court earlier this month Mr Lobov claims that Mr McGregor who, along with two other shareholders, sold the “Proper No 12″ whiskey brand for US$600m (€584m) to Proximo Spirits in 2021

The deal reportedly netted Mr McGregor US$130m (€123m), making him the highest earning sportsman in the world last year.

Mr Lobov claims Conor McGregor told him that “remember 5pc is yours, no matter what” when the pair discussed the future of a new brand of Irish whiskey backed by McGregor.

Mr Lobov, seeking specific performance of an oral agreement he says the two men made when they met in the SBG gym, Naas Road, Dublin, in September 2017.

The court heard that Mr Lobov was offered €1m by Mr McGregor, but had refused the offer.

Mr McGregor denies Mr Lobov’s claim and says that in one message sent by him (Lobov) he stated that he did not want anything from the deal.

However, Mr Lobov failed to get his case admitted to the fast-track Commercial Court list due to delay in bringing the case which now goes through the normal High Court list.