The amazing journey of an Italian/Moldovan rising star.

A few weeks ago, we shared the journey of mixed martial art athlete, Iuri Lapicus, to our community and how the combination of hard work, talent, and dedication always pay off (read the article here).

In that article, we wanted to send an inspiring message to all our young talents around the world to encourage and motivate them not to give up on their dreams despite all the closure of gyms, postponement of competitions in the past year.

As we approach Iuri’s epic bout against living legend Eddie Alvarez on 7 April, which can be watched on TNT in the US (10 pm EST/7 pm PST) or on One Championship’s app FOR FREE outside the US, we decided to reach out to him and have him share his thoughts in the lead-up.

GAMMA: Hi Iuri, firstly, many thanks for sharing your experience with our community, now let’s start from the beginning… Where does your love for mixed martial arts come from? Could you tell us a bit more about when your journey as a mixed martial arts athlete begun?

Iuri Lapicus: My love for mixed martial arts dates right back to my childhood! Since I was a kid I was fascinated by mixed martial arts. I still remember when I watched my first live wrestling event in Moldova during a festival in our village. It was love at first sight. I started practicing Judo and we used to train on hardwood floors. When I arrived in Italy, I decided to shift to mixed martial arts and that’s when my incredible journey started.

GAMMA: What were the main difficulties you faced at the early stages of your career? Did you ever think about quitting your career as a professional athlete?

IL: The journey for turning pro is paved with a lot of hurdles and sacrifices. It truly took a huge effort to stay consistent in the pursuit of my dream, but quitting has never been an option and the results are paying off now! 

GAMMA: How hard was it for you to find athletes of the same level in Italy for your first professional matches?

IL: Finding opponents has always been difficult for me. No one in Italy wanted to compete with me because I was improving really fast and I’ve always been a dangerous athlete to face. Most of the time I prepared my first few bouts without knowing who my opponent was till the last few days into the match.

GAMMA: Would you have liked the opportunity to participate in European amateur tournament when you started? Would you recommend this type of competition to young aspiring athletes?

IL: I always recommend to the young prospects who train with me to try as much as they can to build a solid amateur background and experience. To turn pro you need to be as skilled as you can in all the aspects of the game. So not only mixed martial arts amateur competitions but also wrestling, BJJ and Kickboxing are an excellent testing ground before going to the next level.

GAMMA: How important was it for you to have had the support of a solid amateur federation as Fight1 and GAMMA? How did they help with you career development?

IL: For me it has been fundamental! Having the opportunity in the top amateur circuit available in our country has been an incredible boost to my development. As I said previously, having a solid amateur foundation at your back is the key for a successful pro career. The more you matches you participate in, the better you get.

GAMMA: Which advice would you give to young talents during these difficult times with few opportunities to compete?

IL: Training hard, always. No matter what. At the park, in a basement or in your garage. Hard work is the only path for success.

GAMMA: Any message you would like to share with your fans?

IL: Stay tuned for my next fight! It will be fireworks!

GAMMA: Now let us talk about your next bout…Eddie Alvarez is a living legend of mixed martial arts. What does it mean for you to face such a tough opponent?

IL: You are right. He is a true legend. He has so much experience and he is still at top of the game. It will be an exciting challenge and I am ready.

GAMMA: This match will be one of the biggest fights in the Italian and Moldovan mixed martial arts history: what would it mean to you winning this match?

IL: No doubt that this match represents a milestone both for the Moldovan and the Italian mixed martial arts communities. To me, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I won’t let it slip away for me and for my countries!

Click here to follow Iuri Lapicus’s journey!