ONE Interim Flyweight World Champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio is one step away from validation.
The Filipino star captured the ONE Championship Interim Flyweight World Title with a superb display against Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov in January, and ended the night shaking hands with the reigning world champion, Adriano Moraes inside the cage.
Now the pair will meet to unify the ONE Flyweight World Title in the co-main event of ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER in Macau on 23 June.
It’s undoubtedly the biggest bout of Eustaquio’s mixed martial arts career, and he and his training partners at Team Lakay have taken his preparation to the next level to ensure he is 100 percent ready for the challenge that awaits in Macau.
“We are doing some extraordinary things in training, and we are enjoying every minute of it,” he says.
“It is one of the toughest training camps of my career, but also one of the most enjoyable. My conditioning is on point, and I am ready to go. Right now, we are just polishing my skills and trusting in the process.”
The bout not only unifies Moraes and Eustaquio’s belts, it represents a world title rematch. The pair did battle for the belt in the inaugural ONE Flyweight World Title match in September 2014.
Moraes’ more seasoned submission game proved the difference-maker on that occasion, as he finished the Filipino with a guillotine choke in the second round.
Back then, Eustaquio was relatively inexperienced, but now with a wealth of cage time now under his belt, “Gravity” is ready for a second chance against the Brazilian. This time, he believes he can turn the tables on his old adversary.
“That loss has taught me a lot. Ever since then, I have worked extensively in improving in all areas,” he says.
“I have worked extremely hard to get to this point, because deep inside, I knew we would meet again. Now I can finally give him a better fight.”
Eustaquio’s main strength has always been his striking. But since Team Lakay recently made a concerted attempt to ramp up their grappling training, the Filippino’s ground game has improved markedly.
That was in evidence when Eustaquio defeated Akhmetov, whose wrestling-based attack was effectively nullified. “Gravity” was able to use his striking and footwork to defeat “The Kazakh” via unanimous decision and claim the ONE Interim Flyweight World Championship.
Such has been Eustaquio’s improvement in takedown defence, in particular, the Filipino believes the bulk of his upcoming bout with Moraes will be spent standing up.
“This time around, I have a feeling we will be standing more,” he suggests.
“I think he will want to stand and trade with me to test his striking.
“If the going gets rough, then he can focus on taking it to the mat. The same principle applies to me. I want to test my jiu-jitsu skills too, and what better opponent than Adriano Moraes to do so against?”
The Filipino also says not to rule out the possibility of a KO or TKO finish, due to the nature of mixed martial arts.
“We are wearing 4-ounce gloves, so a knockout is possible for anybody in this sport. You do not even need to hit hard – you just need to hit clean, and with the right timing,” he says.
“I can knock him out in an instant, and he can do the same to me. That is why I have to be real careful. At this level, you do not want to take any big risks. Everything has to be well-calculated.”
With more experience under his belt, a more well-rounded skillset, and the confidence that comes from defeating a former world champion in his most recent bout, Eustaquio is ready to face the toughest challenge of his career against the reigning world champion.
He concludes that he is ready to move heaven and earth to give himself the best possible chance of victory in the biggest bout of his life.
“If God permits, the result will be different this time. This rematch is very big – it is the biggest of my career, no doubt,” Eustaquio says.
“I am treating this bout as the most significant of my time as a professional mixed martial artist, but because of my hard work and preparations, all that is left is to give the performance of a lifetime.
“I am cool, calm, and collected like I have always been. At this level, there are no jitters, and ‘nervous’ is no longer part of my dictionary. When you love what you do and are passionate about it, you do not get nervous. You get excited.”