Top mixed martial arts proponent Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai of Thailand is a veteran of the sport, and enjoys watching big matches from the sidelines just as much as competing in them.
The 31-year-old Thai warrior is a huge fan of undefeated Moldovan Iuri Lapicus and Singaporean world champion Christian Lee, both of whom are scheduled to meet in the ONE Circle in less than two weeks’ time.
Lee and Lapicus are set to do battle at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX, which broadcasts live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore on Friday, 30 October. It’s the first defense of Lee’s ONE Lightweight World Title, which he captured by upsetting Japanese legend Shinya Aoki in 2019.
Having fought and lost to Lapicus in May of last year, Wiratchai knows what Lapicus brings to the table, and warns Lee to expect the unexpected.
“Iuri is a relentless grappler. I didn’t feel anything much from his striking when we fought in the ring, but his relentless grappling really gassed me,” said Wiratchai.
“Christian Lee is also a very committed martial artist, well-rounded in every aspect of the game. He always applies what he works on in training, and comes with something new inside the ring or Circle every time.”
Wiratchai succumbed to Lapicus’ constant grappling pressure, eventually falling by rear-naked choke in the middle of the third and final round of their bout.
But despite his grappling mastery, Wiratchai believes Lapicus has improved leaps and bounds in the striking department due to his work with a kickboxing legend, and that the Moldovan’s newfound skills were evident in his most recent bout.
“I love Iuri’s commitment and drive. He has this innate ability to surprise people. Even though he has such strong and relentless grappling, I think Iuri has also improved a lot with his striking. I think the sparring and training with kickboxing legend Giorgio Petrosyan has a lot to do with it. That confidence was evident when he faced Marat Gafurov,” said Wiratchai.
“Honestly, I thought Iuri would lose by rear naked choke, as this is Marat’s best technique. I thought Marat was the superior grappler. Once again, he proved me wrong by winning by rear naked choke himself instead. Even when we fought, I thought I could defeat him too, but he surprised me a lot in that fight and he won instead.”
ONE Championship returns on Friday, 30 October with ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX, broadcast live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore.
In the main event, reigning ONE Middleweight and Light Heavyweight World Champion “The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang of Myanmar defends his middleweight title against top contender Reinier “The Dutch Knight” de Ridder of The Netherlands.
The Lee-Lapicus bout is one of four World Title showdowns on the night.
Wiratchai is leaning towards the champion successfully defending his title, but won’t be surprised if Lapicus once again pulls off the upset.
“At this point, I see Christian getting the upper hand in this fight. As good as Iuri is, Christian has superior techniques in all aspects. But like I said, Iuri’s strongest trait is his ability to surprise the world. I think Christian is going to win this fight. However, I will not be surprised if Iuri ends up winning too,” said Wiratchai.