Get to Know Iuri Lapicus

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Iuri Lapicus immigrated from Moldova to Italy as a teenager, and although there were hardships that came to moving to a new country, he found love in martial arts.

The Team Petrosyan standout has quickly risen to the top of ONE Championship’s lightweight division as its No. 1-contender. With Christian “The Warrior” Lee in his crosshairs, Lapicus has a chance to make history and put the weight of a continent on his back.

Let’s look back at how Lapicus ascended to become the top contender without the fanfare he deserved.

Iuri Lapicus Rise In Italy

The Italian mixed martial arts scene is not known for its depth of talent. It is still relatively new, and the culture is growing. The regional scene helps to cultivate its growth, and Lapicus is a shining example of that.

The Moldovan made his debut in May of 2014 at Milano in the Cage 4 with a first-round submission. The grappler took more than two years off before his next appearance, at Fight Day Gala, with another first-round rear-naked choke victory.

That was the real beginning of his career. Lapicus has been active ever since with ten more bouts in Italy between 2017 and 2019.

All the more impressive of Lapicus’ rise is that each of his 12 bouts on Italy’s circuit came by way of first-round stoppage. The incredible run showcased he was a level above the country’s talent and put him on the map of ONE Championship.

Exploding Onto the Scene

Lapicus’ first bout outside of Italy, and on a global scale, came at ONE: ENTER THE DRAGON against promotional veteran Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai.

It was a real test for the Italian-based Moldovan as it took him out of his element and onto a grand stage.

Eventually, Lapicus was able to utilize his superior grappling to secure a third-round rear-naked choke and keep his professional record clean. He also kept his finishing rate at a perfect 100%. Being pushed past the first round for the first time in his career, Lapicus gained valuable experience.

ONE stepped up the competition for his next outing against former ONE Featherweight World Champion, Marat Gafurov. It was expected to be a fierce battle between two excellent grapplers that would test Gafurov at lightweight, and be a major step-up in competition for Lapicus.

Instead, Lapicus cemented himself as an exceptional talent and title contender with a 67-second domination. Lapicus sunk-in another rear-naked choke on the rear-naked choke master and claimed victory.

The Next Great European?

When talking European MMA, names like Gegard Mousasi and Michael Bisping spring to mind, but those names are also the old guard. They laid the groundwork for the next wave, and Lapicus could be that next man to take the banner of the continent and wear it proudly.

And he will get that chance against Christian Lee later in 2020.

Lapicus’ undefeated run has flown under-the-radar. Thirteen of his 14 victories have been in the first round, and his striking game has improved immensely under the tutelage of Team Petrosyan. A World Championship victory would not only put the ONE gold around his waist but would signal a new face of European martial arts.

Iuri Lapicus is a name that fans across the world should begin to know as one of the most complete and exciting figures across the pond.

His upcoming bout against Lee should be nothing but fireworks. If he can knock-off the youthful champion, Lapicus will get the recognition he deserves as one of the top talents anywhere in the world.

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