Iuri Lapicus has long been considered one of the most dangerous fighters at lightweight, and his move up to welterweight could have a huge impact on the division.
The Moldovan star will begin with a tough test when he takes on former ONE World Welterweight Champion Zebaztian Kadestam at ONE on Prime Video 1, which airs live in North American primetime on Friday, August 26.
On paper, this match at the Singapore Indoor Stadium should be love at first sight.
Kadestam has five ONE Championship wins – all of which have come by knockout – so it will be a baptism of fire for the division newcomer.
At the same time, it’s a perfect opportunity for Lapicus to establish himself as a serious threat at 185 pounds.
Ahead of fight night, here are five reasons the former ONE Lightweight world title challenger could immediately shake up the ONE welterweight MMA landscape.
#1 He has a well-balanced style.
Lapicus is the quintessential mixed martial artist who combines a crushing strike with a punishing ground game.
His ONE Championship debut against Thai veteran Shannon Wiratchai was a classic example of utilizing superb wrestling and brutal submission grappling. Lapicus first used his ground and pound elite before springing up for a tight rear-naked choke to emphatically announce his arrival.
The Moldovan’s second appearance featured more or less the same, but it was over even earlier. He disguised former ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat Gafurov before securing another submission via a first-round choke.
However, Lapicus is more than an earthly wizard. He has four career knockouts and is more than happy to trade kicks on the feet.
#2 He’s a Certified Finisher
Amazingly, Lapicus never needed the judges to score any of his professional MMA victories.
The 26-year-old boasts a sparkling record of 14-1 (1 NC) in his career to date, with 10 submission finishes alongside those four knockouts.
Additionally, his saves come from a variety of moves including rear chokes, armbars, guillotine choke, triangle choke, and power punches.
Lapicus is a highlight reel waiting to happen, and he’ll be looking to add more kills with his move up to welterweight – a division that’s already packed with killers.
#3 He is the GOAT Kickboxing protege
Iron is said to sharpen iron, and Lapicus was forged with an anvil from one of combat sports legends.
The Moldovan is a member of the famous Petrosyan team in Italy, where he develops his striking under the watchful eyes of ONE Championship superstar Giorgio Petrosyan – widely regarded as the greatest kickboxer of all time.
Much like his mentor, Lapicus displays a menacing calm during his standing streaks before exploding for earth-shattering strikes.
And while he favors his grappling when hunting for finishes, Lapicus uses his strike to soften opponents before locking in chokeholds that send them into the realm of darkness.
#4 He is strength personified
Martial arts has always been built around technique, but it also helps when a fighter possesses pure, raw strength.
In this case, Lapicus complements his technical wisdom with nearly unstoppable raw power.
The best showcase for this feature was his match against Gafurov. While the Russian is one of ONE’s most feared submission specialists, he fell victim to Lapicus’ strength in their February 2020 match at ONE: WARRIOR’S CODE.
After the athletes got tangled near the ropes, Lapicus knocked Gafurov to the ground like the former featherweight king was a piece of paper. He then took his enemy’s back and, within seconds, the bell was ringing to signal the arrival.
#5 Welterweight seems like a natural fit.
At 5-foot-11, Lapicus was considered tall for the lightweight division, and his move up to welterweight might put him in a more natural position.
He could certainly wreak havoc if he maintains his trademark explosiveness and adds even more strength to his frame.
Whether on the feet or on the ground, the Moldovan showed incredible courage and a desire to shoot for memorable finishes that will be replayed for years to come.
If the 185-pound class is truly a fit, then the ONE Championship welterweights should prepare for a serious threat within their ranks.