When it comes to learning striking skills for MMA lightweight contender Iuri Lapicus is entitled to believe he is working with the best. The Moldovan trains alongside Giorgio Petrosyan and his brother Armen.

The former is arguably the best kickboxers of all time while the latter has won more than his fair share of titles and tournaments. Ahead of his fight with Eddie Alvarez at ONE on TNT next month Lapicus discussed the influence the Petrosyan brothers have had on his career,

“They are two great champions, but also really special human beings. They helped me a lot both in the ring and outside of it. They became family to me,” he said.

Winning streak

Lapicus won his first 14 fights but says there was never any danger of the success getting to his head,

“The biggest lesson they taught me is that no matter what goal or professional success you have obtained, you have to stay humble. Without sacrifice and grit, there is no chance you are going to succeed in any field.”

Alvarez is a former Bellator and UFC lightweight champion. Lapicus says he was a fan of the American long before they became ONE Championship rivals,

“Eddie is one of the biggest names, a legend. I grew up watching his fights but I’m sure that this time, I’m gonna be the man to end his career, and I will finish him on April 7th.”

He is coming off the first defeat of his career. Lapicus was stopped by lightweight champion Christian Lee at ONE: ‘Inside the Matrix’ and says it took him a while to come to terms with having lost,

“Of course, it has been hard because I was expecting to win the title, but that’s life. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Now I have to take one step at a time, and I am focused on my next match in order to get ready.”

Culture shock

Like the Petrosyan brothers he made the journey from Eastern Europe to Italy. Lapicus’ family moved when he was young and being in a completely different country came as a culture shock to the young man,

“The toughest hardship I faced was integration. Being a teenager in a new country, not speaking the local language, is really difficult,” he says.

He was struggling to integrate into Italian life but would find sanctuary form these struggles in a local gym,

“At the time, a classmate introduced me to mixed martial arts. He invited me to go with him to his gym and it was love at first sight. I became more curious about other disciplines, and decided that I wanted to be an all-around martial artist.”

“In this process, sport, and martial arts, in particular, helped me a lot. Contact sports, in general, are such an effective way to let off steam in the proper way, and it also helped me a lot with my self-discipline and self-esteem.”

Mental strength

This mental strength helped Lapicus to refocus after the loss to Lee,

“Of course with Christian it was a tough loss but I feel like I learned a lot from that loss. The answer is always hard work (so) I got back immediately in the gym and now I feel like I’m 100% ready for Eddie Alvarez.”

With the fight being broadcast live in the US and his opponent having a big reputation from his days with both the UFC and Bellator this is a huge opportunity for Lapicus. He intends to grab it with both hands and knows exactly what the stakes are,

“He’s a legend and I  respect him but this is the chance of a lifetime for me.”