ONE Interim Flyweight World Champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio (10-6) is preparing for the biggest match of his career.
After defeating Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov for the gold in January, he is now aiming to become the undisputed best in the flyweight division’s most important bout.
The Filipino is scheduled to clash with ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes (17-2) in a world title unification bout at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER. The contest, which will serve as the night’s main event, takes place at the Studio City Event Center in Macau on Saturday, 23 June.
“We are doing some extraordinary things in training, and we are enjoying every minute of it,” the 29-year-old 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.”
Not only is this a pivotal World Champion versus World Champion bout, it is also a rematch of Eustaquio and Moraes’ initial encounter for the inaugural ONE Flyweight World Championship in September 2014.
When they first met, the Igorot warrior only had nine professional bouts under his belt, and “Mikinho” was able to utilize his Brazilian jiu-jitsu expertise to finish “Gravity” with a tight guillotine choke in the second frame.
It was a tough defeat to swallow, but Eustaquio took a lot away from it. He viewed it as a learning experience and used it as motivation.
“That loss has taught me a lot. Ever since then, I have worked extensively in improving in all areas,” he explains.
“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.”
Since that bout, Eustaquio – whose mixed martial arts skills were built on striking – has greatly improved his grappling.
In his most recent outing against Akhmetov, he stayed out of danger with excellent takedown defense, allowing him to out-strike “The Kazakh” en route to a unanimous decision victory, and the ONE Interim Flyweight World Championship.
When he meets Moraes in Macau, however, his newfound skills could be put to the test like never before. “Mikinho” is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and a NAGA No-Gi Pro Division Champion who has nine submission victories in his mixed martial arts career.
His grappling wizardry is appropriately revered.
Even so, “Gravity” believes his opponent may look to focus on using his other skills.
“This time around, I have a feeling we will be standing more. I think he will want to stand and trade with me to test his striking,” Eustaquio says.
“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?”
Though he is willing to tangle with Moraes in any discipline for up to 25 minutes, Eustaquio acknowledges he may not get the chance.
Should the contest remain on the feet, a knockout could happen in a blink of an eye, as both men are talented strikers. Eustaquio is a wushu champion, while Moraes has a solid base in Muay Thai and capoeira.
“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 explains.
“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.”
Defeating Moraes to become the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion would be the proudest moment of his career, and “Gravity” will do everything in his power to leave the Studio City Event Center with his hand raised.
“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.”