The Filipino veteran will be watching closely when his Team Lakay stablemate and #2-ranked flyweight contender Danny “The King” Kingad squares off against #4-ranked Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov in a high-stakes mixed martial arts showdown this Friday, 17 December.
Eustaquio, one of Team Lakay’s elder statesmen, has been training with Kingad at the Baguio City-based gym for several years.
During that time, he’s helped the 26-year-old develop his approach to combat and fine-tune his overall skill set.
As such, “Gravity” knows his young charge inside and out, and he thinks Kingad will have an edge over “The Kazakh” in a few different areas.
“I believe Danny’s main advantage here is his athleticism. I think that’s where Danny will really move ahead. Aside from being younger and fresher, his strength and power are his advantages over Akhmetov,” Eustaquio says.
“Danny has certainly been improving, and his biggest improvement came in terms of [his] physique and skills. I believe he’s added a lot of things to his arsenal and because of that, he’s more confident to execute game plans now.”
Still, Eustaquio refuses to count out “The Kazakh” after going toe-to-toe in two heated battles.
Their first meeting came in September 2017 after Akhmetov lost the ONE Flyweight World Title to Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes. The Kazakhstani grappler bounced back from his first career defeat to earn a narrow split-decision victory over “Gravity.”
But when the duo rematched five months later for the ONE Interim Flyweight World Championship, Eustaquio utilized his prized wushu striking and improved takedown defense to earn the unanimous decision nod – and the gold – after five rounds.
In total, Eustaquio shared the Circle with Akhmetov for a jaw-dropping 40 minutes, so he has a deep understanding of the 34-year-old’s talent and mental fortitude.
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Because of those experiences, the Filipino veteran knows how his old foe operates and can help Kingad navigate some potential pitfalls in their headlining tilt on Friday.
“One thing that Akhmetov has is his confidence. Having faced him twice already, he has a different kind of confidence when he steps into the Circle, and I think that’s one advantage of his,” Eustaquio offers.
“When he’s really composed, he can really execute and get things his way. That’s what I noticed particularly in our first fight.
“Danny shouldn’t allow Akhmetov to gain confidence in this match. He should avoid letting that guy dictate and control the pace of the action.”
With all that in mind, Eustaquio expects this contest to be a thrilling matchup that goes the distance.
But ultimately, he thinks his teammate will do enough to leave the Singapore Indoor Stadium with a convincing win.
“I believe this is going to be a war. They will stand toe-to-toe in striking and on the ground. I’m taking Danny by unanimous decision.”