When Iuri Lapicus made his ONE Championship debut back in May of 2019, only the hardcore fight fans knew who the undefeated Italian-Moldavian athlete was.
In his ONE FC debut, Iuri Lapicus (14-0 MMA, 2-0 ONE) was able to get his hand raised after a smooth rear-naked choke on the Thai veteran Shannon Wiratchai in the 3rd round. It was only earlier this month that he made a big statement and sent shockwaves throughout the world of MMA by finishing former ONE and M-1 Global Featherweight champion Marat Gafurov with Gafurov’s own signature move, the rear-naked choke.
Lapicus spoke to BJPENN.com: “The plan was to soften his legs with some low kicks. I knew he lacked on conditioning in his legs. Well, you saw how it played.”
“That maneuver doesn’t work every time”, said the former judoka. “But it helps me a lot since it’s an unusual technique that usually catches my opponents off guard.”
Even though the Milan-based fighter has a background in Judo, he is certainly prepared when it comes to stand-up skills. He trains and spars with one of the greatest kickboxers of all time, Giorgio Petrosyan, who recently won the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix.
“[Petrosyan] helps me a lot,” he said about his training with the kickboxing legend. “Not everyone has the privilege to train with the best in the world. He gives me advice all the time, not only about the technical side but also about the mind part of the game and it means a lot to me.”
ONE FC CEO Chatri SityodtongIuri was so impressed by Lapicus’ last performance, he decided to give him a title shot in May, against the promotion’s current Lightweight champion Christian Lee.
“I was expecting a title shot before the Gafurov fight,” Lapicus said. “I knew that with an impressive win I could get it, and so it was. I was already studying Lee before my last bout so I knew him already, but I’ll let the ring talk. We’ll see how it goes.”
Both men like to end their bouts in quick fashion. Lapicus has never went the distance and holds a 100% finishing rate, while the champion has only needed the judges 2 times in his entire professional career.
“I always prepare to go five rounds”, Lapicus said. “But again, we’ll see how it plays.”
Iuri Lapicus is a natural 170-pounder, but he is content with his current weight situation and is not planning to change weight class anytime soon.
“You know, it is nearly impossible to cut weight in ONE with all their weight-cutting rules,” he said. “Athletes are constantly tested both on weight and hydration. I feel good in my current weight class and I think it’s the best for my health and safety. I’m going to stick to 170 pounds for now.”
One of the most prominent Italian combat sports promoters, Carlo Di Blasi was recently nominated ONE FC Italy’s president, rumors are circulating about potential potential ONE events on Italian soil.
“I think the dates are scheduled,” Lapicus said of a potential ONE Championship show in Italy. “There are rumors spreading, but nothing definite yet. It won’t be easy to have another generation of such talented Italian fighters, so I guess that brings three potential champions [Giorgio Petrosyan, Iuri Lapicus, and Mustapha Haida] fighting in front of their home crowd will be the greatest gift for the Italian fans.”
This article first appeared on CLOSEDGUARDMEDIA.com on 27th February, 2020.