The biggest flyweight match in ONE Championship history will happen this weekend.
On Saturday, 23 June, ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes will face ONE Interim Flyweight World Champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio in the main event of ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER in Macau.
Before the fans pack the Studio City Event Center for this stacked mega card, learn everything you need to know about this epic Flyweight World Title Unification bout.
Two Beginnings Full Of Hardship
After being abandoned on the streets of Brasilia, Brazil, just days after his birth, Moraes was taken in by an orphanage, and then adopted by his mother, Mirtes, three years later. Though he participated in activities like swimming, judo, and capoeira to unleash his pent-up energy, “Mikinho” fell into bad company.
However, after losing a street fight, his friend suggested he try out Brazilian jiu-jitsu at his gym. Moraes studied “the gentle art” under Eric Medeiros and Ataíde Junior of Constrictor Team, and achieved great success — winning the NAGA No-Gi Pro Division Championship in 2014, and earning his black belt the following year.
More importantly, he learnt the discipline and values he needed to change his life for the better.
While studying BJJ, Moraes also worked on his striking, because he had plans to compete in mixed martial arts. The Brazilian made a successful debut in September 2011, starting off his journey with a first-round submission victory.
Eustaquio endured some hardship, too. When he was 9, his father moved to South Korea for better job opportunities in order to support the family. “Gravity” was forced to become the man of the house, and help take care his siblings at an early age.
Although he performed this responsibility, Eustaquio also built a future for himself. At the age of 14, he was inspired to learn kickboxing after watching local athletes compete at a show in the Benguet province. Eustaquio was talented enough to secure a place on the junior Philippine national wushu team, as well as earn a wushu scholarship to the University Of The Cordilleras.
Despite earning both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in 2009 and spending a year teaching, the Filipino yearned for competition.
While training at Team Lakay in 2011, his wushu coach Mark Sangiao encouraged him to try mixed martial arts. Eustaquio agreed, made his debut for a local promotion in February, and won in 49 seconds. He has not looked back since.
The Roots Of The Rivalry
The first time these world-class athletes collided was September 2014. They faced-off for the inaugural ONE Flyweight World Championship in the main event of ONE: RISE OF THE KINGDOM, and Moraes was able to secure a guillotine choke in the second round to claim the prize.
Ever since then, their careers have gone in different directions.
Moraes had a successful first title defense against Riku Shibuya in March 2015, but lost the belt to unbeaten 22-0 Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov later that November. “Mikinho” decided he needed a change to further his career, and opted to relocate to Florida, United States, to train at American Top Team and eliminate the distractions from being in Brazil.
The move put him back on track — he tapped out Eugene Toquero in April 2016, and followed that up by submitting Tilek Batyrov four months later to claim the interim title. In an epic rematch, he then defeated Akhmetov via unanimous decision in August 2017 to become the undisputed World Champion.
He would top it all off by submitting Eustaquio’s Team Lakay stablemate, Danny Kingad, in November.
Eustaquio on the other hand, continued to experience mixed results in the years to follow, and even flirted with a run at bantamweight. Ultimately, he returned to flyweight, and finally experienced great success after putting in the work.
The Filipino edged out former foe Anatpong Bunrad via split decision in May 2017, but fell to Akhmetov later in September, also via split decision.
That set up a rematch for the ONE Interim Flyweight World Title in January, but this time, Eustaquio pulled away with the unanimous decision, and captured the gold.
The Roads To Victory
Moraes has been focused on improving all of his skills, especially his wrestling, his timing, and his speed. He also expressed a desire to knock out his opponents again, something he has not done since June 2013.
Although he may try to stand and trade with Eustaquio, “Mikinho” knows he can always rely on his world-class BJJ if that falls through.
“I think my jiu-jitsu is better than Geje Eustaquio’s, and I can submit him again, because I have more weapons on the ground,” Moraes offers.
According to the Filipino, “going down to the ground against Moraes is a dream.”
Though “Gravity” is polishing his skills and appears unafraid of grappling with his BJJ black belt rival, he believes this bout will be contested on the feet, where he can display his elite striking.
“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.
“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.”
Michael Schiavello, ONE Championship Lead Commentator
“Any World Title match gets me excited, especially a Unification match. Here you have a real ‘Rocky’ story in Geje versus the most complete high-level martial artist in ONE Championship, Moraes. The odds will be stacked against Geje, which makes that whole ‘Rocky’ feel even more so.
“Adriano has a greater skill set than Geje. What he needs to do is stay true to himself — not get sucked into a striking game, use all levels, all martial arts, confound and confuse Geje, and out-strategize him. If he gets Geje down, he neutralizes the wushu, and then it is Adriano’s world.
“You cannot compare Geje from 2014 to Geje now. He is a completely different beast who has developed patience, power, and precision — an awesome combination. He needs to bring those three aspects of his game to beat Adriano.”
Mitch Chilson, Broadcast Commentator & Former ONE Athlete
“Adriano is extremely well-rounded. His striking has looked sharp, and is always improving. However, he excels when things hit the ground. His grappling is world-class. He will need to pressure Geje and keep him scared of the takedown. Adriano won their first match, so his confidence will be at an all-time high. But both are different athletes now.
“Geje has had exceptional striking skills since he started. However, his achilles heel has always been being out-grappled. When Geje competed against Ahkmetov in January, his takedown defense looked on point and his ability to get back up was strong. If he can show up in Macau with the same form, he may add ‘undisputed’ to his title reign.”
Reece McLaren, ONE Flyweight World Title Contender
“This is a great rematch, and it will be determine who is the ‘King of the Flyweights.’ It is another classic stand-up versus ground battle. I am very interested to see who can keep the fight in their domain.
“The whole team at Team Lakay have stepped up leaps and bounds with their wrestling and grappling. Geje has to use his best anti-wrestling and put his hands on Adriano to win. As for Adriano, he has to take Geje down, and use that world-class Brazilian jiu-jitsu of his.
“I see two things that may occur: a submission or a KO. I would be surprised to see this match go the distance.”