This past Friday, 26 January, an emotional Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio stood at the center of the ONE Championship cage with a world title belt draped over his right shoulder, and gold confetti falling from the rafters at a packed Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
The 28-year-old Team Lakay veteran put forth the most comprehensive performance of his seven-year professional career at ONE: GLOBAL SUPERHEROES, stifling former ONE Flyweight World Champion Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov for five whole rounds to author a dominant unanimous decision win, and capture the ONE Interim Flyweight World Title.
From the sound of the opening bell, a cool, calm and collected Eustaquio appeared incredibly relaxed, flowing with his world-class wushu strikes behind a fast and accurate right hand. Akhmetov, a Greco-Roman wrestler based out of Thailand’s Tiger Muay Thai & MMA, looked to take matters to the ground where he had the advantage with his grappling. But Eustaquio proved elusive for the duration of the bout.
The local hero frequently dug into Akhmetov’s legs with low kicks, undoubtedly taking the steam out of the Kazakhstani’s takedown attempts as the match wore on for two rounds.
In the third frame, Akhmetov turned up the pace, sensing he was falling behind on the judges’ scorecards. Eustaquio, however, remained calm under duress, and comfortably countered with flashy side kicks and crisp boxing combinations. Towards the end of the stanza, the former world champion locked in a standing guillotine, but Eustaquio signaled to referee Olivier Coste that he was alright.
The championship rounds saw “The Kazakh” try to put the pressure on Eustaquio, but the Filipino just was not going to be denied. With less than two minutes remaining in the fifth, Akhmetov’s corner urged him to press the pace, but the former world champion could not grasp his rhythm. Eustaquio continued to scramble out of close quarter situations, and repeatedly connected on his combinations at range.
“Gravity” promised fans improved takedown defense in the rematch, and the Filipino martial arts veteran delivered, all while showcasing absolutely dominant striking, keeping Akhmetov at bay with his fast and powerful attacks.
“I don’t know what to say. This belt is not mine to take, it’s ours,” said an emotional Eustaquio in the post-bout interview with Mitch Chilson.
“Thank you to my family who was always there from the start, coach Mark Sangiao, and the entire Team Lakay who never doubted me, and always believed that one day I would stand here holding this belt. I am proud to represent this flag all throughout the world.”
Reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes, who watched intently from cageside, climbed onto the mat to congratulate Eustaquio on his victory. The two athletes exchanged hugs, and promised fans an epic battle when they attempt to unify the titles sometime later this year.
With the victory, Eustaquio improves his overall record to 10-6, and captures the ONE Interim Flyweight World Championship in the process. As for Akhmetov, he experiences his second defeat in six months, and sees his record fall to 24-2.