Dublin wrestling coach Sergey Pikulskiy has been with the Notorious One for over 10 years and watched him grow as a fighter, man and now father
CONOR MCGREGOR faces a wild test after his boxing debut with Floyd Mayweather, as his coach dreams of a fight in Russia against their bear-brawling icon.
UFC star Khabib Nurmagomedov is undefeated in 24 fights and incredible footage can be found of the MMA star grappling with the beasts in the mountains of Dagestan.
But McGregor’s long-time trainer Sergey Pikulskiy is dreaming of the Irish UFC sensation being his 25th fight and ending his incredible streak.
Pikulskiy, who arrived in Las Vegas on Thursday on McGregor’s private jet, told SunSport: “Khabib next is the dream fight for me because he is a Russian wrestler like me.
“It would be an amazing fight.
“Conor is huge in Russia and it is a country that loves mixed martial arts but they have not had the UFC there yet. “Having heroes like Conor and Khabib fighting there for their first show would be the dream.
“Plus, because this next fight is a boxing match, I have not really been needed in camp.
“But because Khabib is a wrestler then I would be used a lot more and could feel much more useful.”
When McGregor prepared to face Jose Aldo 2015 in a life-changing 13-second performance he would win with a famous left hand, he taunted the Brazilian, saying his new baby and family would be a distraction.
Now, with Conor junior on the scene and partner Dee Devlin making up his Vegas entourage, the boxing boot is on the other foot.
But Pikulskiy has discussed the impact of fatherhood with his star pupil and seen the new energy his first son and heir has brought for the Mayweather showdown on Saturday.
He said: “Conor and I have spoken about what it means to be a fighter and a father and it is not a problem for him, it is a positive.
“I have a six-year-old son and when he was born I had a very serious back problem but, when he was born, all that pain just went away, disappeared. And Conor is the same.
“For a man having your first son is also always important and special.
“I didn’t think Conor could become any more focused or dedicated but his son has helped that happen.”
For over a decade Pikulskiy has worked with the 21-3 MMA star on the art of wrestling and – although his role in this camp has been reduced by the switch in sport – he sees ways for McGregor to use his skills.
When the pair clash up close, the 29-year-old could be up to stone heavier than the 40-year-old veteran.
And he will now how to use his body to do his best to physically dominate the contest and bully the older man.
He said: “Conor is a great wrestler, very technical and skilled but, especially around this boxing match, fans don’t really get to see that. But in the clinch he could use it to his advantage.
“He is going into the ring the bigger man and he can lean all his onto Floyd and sap away his energy.
“Being leaned on and coming up against a bigger man will not be new to Floyd but the way Conor has total control of his body and his weight is something that only really comes with wrestling.
“Because of his golden left hand, that has dropped so many people, you don’t really see Conor’s wrestling but that’s a good thing.
“If he does show it then it is usually because he has already finished the fight standing up with that left hand.”
?McGregor v Mayweather Tips: 12/1 beast?
FLOYD MAYWEATHER is no KO machine.
His last knockout was Victor Ortiz in 2011 but that was shrouded in controversy. Before that, his previous victim had been Ricky Hatton in 2007.
So, even though we expect this fight to be one-sided, it will not end straight away.
Mayweather will toy with the inexperienced McGregor and we love Sun Bets’ 12/1 that Money wins in the fifth.
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The Crumlin star has landed fame and fortune with his concussive left paw but he has remained loyal to aclose-knit and diverse team.
Icelander Gunner Nelson and Russian Hammer Artem Lobov are two of his closest pals and training partners while their Straight Blast Gym is a revolving door for fighters making pilgrims from all over the world to learn.
It is what has helped make the fighter so well rounded and what made them scoff at Mayweather’s accusation of racism from McGregor on the world media tour.
Pikulskiy said: “The reason Conor has stayed true to his friends and his team is that he is a humble.
“We speak about how much has changed and it has.
“But when we talk we say that ‘our things have changed but us as people have not’.
“The cars and houses have changed but Conor remains the same humble guy.
“Conor keeps a small circle around him and he is proud of them and his home.”