In June, the Baguio City, Philippines native valiantly defeated the flyweight division’s former king Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes via split decision. The bout took place in an epic five-round World Champion versus World Champion main-event clash at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER.
In a third-straight rematch win, the 29-year-old edged out the man who beat him in their battle for the inaugural championship in September 2014. In doing so, he left the Studio City Event Center with the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Title.
It was the greatest performance of the Filipino’s career, but he is adamant this is only the beginning of his time at the top.
Eustaquio is ready to usher in the ‘Age Of Gravity,’ as he has his eyes firmly set on more gold and a rubber match with the Brazilian. He talks about that, and much more, in this exclusive interview.
ONE Championship: Were you surprised Adriano Moraes posed a challenge with his striking?
Geje Eustaquio: No, I was never surprised about that. I know he is also a developing athlete. He put in a lot in his training camp to be at his best, but I wanted to take his confidence away early.
Even in the first and second rounds, he was not 100 percent sold on taking me down any more. He was already confused. His confidence was not there any more, because I was also initiating takedowns. I think I surprised him a lot by going for the takedowns.
Honestly, it was part of our game plan – to take him down and beat him at his own game, mentally. But of course, the real strategy was keeping the fight on the feet. He needed to stand up with me. When we did go to the ground, I made sure I was doing damage with ground and pound.
ONE: Did you ever feel threatened by any of his submissions?
GE: Yes, of course. Adriano is a high-level grappler, but some of his submissions were ineffective this time around. He was going for some kneebars, and I was not having it. I knew he was not capable of submitting me with that.
My mindset was always, ‘If I got caught, I would never tap.’ If he got a choke on me, I would sleep with that choke. But I was always in the right position, so there was no chance of that happening.
ONE: Now that you are the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion, how does this affect your teammate Danny Kingad? Is there a possibility you could compete against each other?
GE: Danny is very young in this sport. He will have his time, but I have to admit, we are in a business.
If the boss says we fight, then let’s do it. Me and Danny, and everyone else on our team, we spar three times a week – and sparring at Team Lakay is totally 100 percent. It is like real fighting – we go all out. There is always a possibility of one of us facing each other.
As much as possible, though, I would not like to compete with this kid. I believe he will have his time. He has all the time in the world, and he is developing very fast. You saw [the difference between] when he lost to Adriano and now – look at how he crumples his opponents inside the ring.
He is such a fast learner, and he is growing so rapidly. I know he will have his time.
ONE: Who do you expect to compete against in the future?
GE: 2018 is my year. Everybody is welcome.
I am also planning to go to bantamweight, strawweight, or even challenge Sam-A Gaiyanghadao for the ONE Super Series Muay Thai Flyweight World Championship. I think that is an intriguing match-up.
There are a lot of open doors and possibilities for me, and I am willing to take the risk. But if ONE Championship wants me to defend this Flyweight World Title immediately, then let’s go. It is very much welcome.
For now, my main goal is to go back to the gym and review the tape, learn, and improve. I want to add to my arsenal.
ONE: You have faced Moraes twice and the score is even at 1-1. Do you think you will have a trilogy match, or would you rather take on a new challenger like Reece McLaren?
GE: If the fans are not bored yet with me and Adriano fighting, then let’s go. If the fans want to see it, let’s go. But if I have better opportunities, I will take it.
Of course, Adriano is a World Champion, and we are very evenly matched. He submitted me the first time, but this time, I proved that I became a better fighter. Give me more time, and I will be way better.
Please do not underestimate our BJJ, or what we call “Baguio jiu-jitsu” – it is dangerous. With more time, we [at Team Lakay] will be submitting guys in competition.