An old idiom says “love is sweeter the second time around,” but for Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, a bout is better when he gets another chance to face an opponent.
The Filipino has rematched an old foe three times in his career. On each occasion, he was defeated in the first match-up, but emerged as the winner when the rivalry was renewed – including his ONE Flyweight World Championship defeat of Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes the last time he competed.
“In my case, I usually perform better and come out victorious in rematches because I’ve already gotten a feel for my opponent,” he explains.
“I also believe that my development is faster than that of my opponent, which is why I outperform them when we share the cage or ring again.”
“Gravity” is a master of learning from his mistakes, and coming back better than ever. Here is a look back at the three bouts that make the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion also ONE Championship’s undisputed “King Of The Rematch.”
The swift and crafty striking of Geje "Gravity" Eustaquio!Download the ONE Super App now ???? http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp
Posted by ONE Championship on Monday, May 28, 2018
Eustaquio’s reputation for making the most of second chances started back in May 2017 when he defeated the hard-hitting Anatpong “Mak” Bunrad in a rematch at ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES.
The Thai got the nod via split decision in the first encounter at ONE: VALOR OF CHAMPIONS in April 2015, but there was not much to separate them in that absolute thriller of a match-up, so “Gravity” knew he only needed a few tweaks to his game plan to succeed the second time around.
He admits standing toe-to-toe against such a dangerous striker was the biggest mistake in their initial encounter, so this time, he had to stick and move.
After a difficult first round, Eustaquio changed the complexion of the contest. He was fast on his feet and frustrated the physically stronger Thai combatant with crisp counterpunches.
“Bunrad kept on throwing big shots from the first round, but he had difficulties because I was creating spaces. I was moving a lot,” he reveals.
“Although he was throwing more, I was the fighter who was landing more accurately. My timing was the key.
“I was a bit more strategic in the rematch. If I traded fire with fire, the outcome would be very similar to our first meeting. It was still exciting, but in the rematch, I made sure that all the clean blows came from me.”
“Gravity” continued in the final frame as he attacked first with leg kicks, as well as counter Bunrad with straight rights and elbows whenever he charged in.
A takedown by Bunrad did not extinguish Eustaquio’s fire. He maintained his urgency to sweep his opponent and rain down a torrent of blows until the final bell.
When the bout’s final bell sounded, Eustaquio thought he had done more than enough to earn a decision from all three judges. It did not quite work out like that, but his work rate at least ensured two officials gave him the nod.
“After the third round, I was already confident that I won the fight. From my view, I got two rounds to one,” he says.
“I was surprised with the three judges’ decision. I was expecting a unanimous decision win against my opponent, but I am good with it. I respect it.
“I am so happy whether it’s split or unanimous. I am the winner. I know I did my best inside the cage.”
Geje "Gravity" Eustaquio’s best performance yet. On 23 June, he will attempt to unify the ONE Flyweight World Championship.Macau | 23 June | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast
Posted by ONE Championship on Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Eustaquio kicked off 2018 with a rematch against Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov at ONE: GLOBAL SUPERHEROES in January, a do-over of their September 2017 meeting, which saw “Gravity” lose out by the closest of split decisions.
With the ONE Interim Flyweight World Championship on the line in the rematch, “Gravity” had to prepare to go 25 minutes. He worked tirelessly to make sure he had the stamina to stay fresh, outwork the division’s former king, and make sure he would have the edge if the bout went the distance.
“A wrestler like Kairat Akhmetov will put your gas tank to the test. My good conditioning was definitely a factor,” the Filipino says.
Eustaquio also needed to nullify Akhmetov’s grappling – the strength he relied on to sway the judges. Because of that fact, he left Baguio City to work on his ground game with Iranian wrestling coach Ali Heydarabi.
That paid off when “The Kazakh” started the bout by looking to close the distance and use his wrestling, but it was largely ineffective. The Filipino hero showed vastly-improved takedown defense to fend him off and stay on his feet.
He ripped heavy kicks to the legs and body of Akhmetov, which also worked to take his stamina away.
“Gravity” even flaunted his growing offensive arsenal — he locked up a guillotine choke and then a kneebar from his back, after eventually being taken to the mat late in the first round.
“Five or six years ago, I didn’t even know jiu-jitsu. Now you see me attempting submissions. I believe I am growing because the people backing me are the best in the business,” he says.
It was a performance full of confidence and composure, which gave Eustaquio a comfortable unanimous decision and his first taste of World Championship gold.
“Winning the World Title is a dream come true for me. Ever since I started my professional career, the goal was to be a World Champion. To finally realize my dream last year, it was a meaningful moment to me,” the Team Lakay member recalls.
“There were lots of trials and challenges. My path was not the easiest, but I always knew what I had to do to achieve it. Like I always say, you either win, or you learn. I learned from my past failures.”
Just three more weeks until Geje "Gravity" Eustaquio vs. Adriano Moraes 3! Manila | 25 January | 7:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/oneascent19
Posted by ONE Championship on Thursday, January 3, 2019
In June 2018, Eustaquio found himself in yet another rematch — this time, he went up against then-ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes in a highly-anticipated title unification contest at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER.
Again, when it mattered most, Eustaquio pulled out all the stops and outworked Moraes en route to a split decision to leave Macau as the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion.
“I had him confused in the first and second rounds. He was no longer certain if he wanted to shoot for a takedown in the later rounds,” the Filipino confides.
“He submitted me the first time, but I proved that I became better, and made improvements way faster than him.”
Although he is known for his wushu, Eustaquio surprised everyone when he went to grapple with the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt.
This time around, he also had the skills to stay out of danger in the grappling exchanges, and when he was free of Moraes’ clutches, he made every piece of offense count on his feet.
After five fiercely-contested rounds, Eustaquio earned two of the three judges’ favor to take the tightest of split decisions and emerge as the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion.
“It wasn’t easy, the split decision can attest to that, but our game plan worked,” he says.
“We were able to negate most of his strengths, and we did what we wanted to do. All the hard work was worth it. It’s definitely my favorite victory above all.”
Eustaquio will share the global stage with Moraes again on Friday, 25 January as both men are set to face each other in the first trilogy bout in ONE Championship history.
The contest will serve as the main event of ONE: HERO’S ASCENT, which emanates from the 20,000-capacity Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
Now with two matches in the bag against “Mikinho,” Eustaquio knows him better than any opponent he has faced in his career. He is also more motivated than ever, and though he knows Moraes will be better, too, he is confident the third time will be a charm.
“Being a World Champion only made me much more hungry,” he says.
“I am still growing. I believe there is a lot more to unlock and showcase from my martial arts arsenal.
“If I can do it before, I will do it again on 25 January. The belt will stay here in the Philippines.”