The ONE Flyweight World Champion was absent from much of his family’s holiday celebrations as he devoted his time to training at Team Lakay in Baguio City, Philippines to prepare for the first defense of his belt.
On 25 January, in front of his countrymen at the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, the 29-year-old will face Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes in the first trilogy bout in ONE Championship history.
Geje "Gravity" Eustaquio's meteoric rise to claim the ONE Flyweight World Championship 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 Friday, January 4, 2019
Eustaquio will put his most prized possession on the line – the gold he worked his entire life to win – which is why he has been separated from his loved ones so much over the past several weeks.
“The life of a professional martial artist is difficult, but I understand that in order to be the best, we have to make certain sacrifices,” he says.
“Spending time away from friends and family to train isn’t easy. It’s part of being a professional martial artist. A lot of sacrifices have been made. Training in December was one of them.
“I had to give up Christmas celebrations for this fight. I missed a lot of family activities such as birthdays and reunions.”
The headlining flyweight clash at the promotion’s first event on Philippine soil in 2019 is a rubber match, which follows these rivals’ grueling rematch at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER last June.
On that occasion in Macau, Eustaquio was pushed all the way by Moraes, who was always dangerous – especially when the match ended up onto the mat.
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
That is why “Gravity” knows he must be at the peak of his powers to prevail again.
“If I want to consider myself as a championship-quality athlete in this sport, I have to make that sacrifice,” he adds.
“In the end, I will reap the fruits of my labor. Hard work cannot be denied forever.”
Eustaquio and Moraes first stood opposite each other at ONE: RISE OF THE KINGDOM in September 2014 when the two collided for the inaugural ONE Flyweight World Championship.
Moraes derailed Eustaquio’s championship aspirations as he found a way to counteract his opponent’s striking prowess in the second round and then forced the Team Lakay representative to wave the white flag because of a tight guillotine choke.
Eustaquio admits it was a tough defeat to digest, but he took a lot away from it and used the experience as fuel for his charge back to the top.
“That loss has taught me a lot. Ever since then, I have worked extensively in improving in all areas,” he says.
“I have worked extremely hard to get to this point because deep inside, I knew we would meet again.”
The Filipino hero went back to the drawing board, and over the next few years, he became a better, more well-rounded mixed martial artist who was ready to beat the best.
Armed with a much-improved ground game to go with his superb striking skills. Eustaquio was prepared to settle the score in the rematch.
After five fiercely-contested rounds, “Gravity” earned two of the three judges’ favor to take the tightest of split decisions and emerge as the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion.
“The first time I fought Adriano was a learning experience for me. I knew going into the [second] match, that it would be one of the biggest challenges of my career,” Eustaquio says.
“That’s why I am the champion today – because I learned my lesson. That’s the secret to my victory in the rematch.
“I was able to execute my game plan properly and defended his grappling effectively. I was also able to score some takedowns of my own, which I know surprised him and confused him.
“I learned a lot from my previous wars, and that brought me to victory.”
Eustaquio will come into the Mall Of Asia Arena with momentum on his side, and the confidence of a World Champion, but he is under no illusions that he will have an easier ride.
Just as he did, he expects “Mikinho” to return as a stronger, more skilled competitor, who will do everything in his power to begin his third reign at the top of the flyweight heap.
However, “Gravity” believes he can put an end on his rivalry with Moraes by having his hand raised in triumph.
“Adriano is hungry. He will bring something new to the table in our third fight,” he predicts.
“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 preparation, all that is left is to give the performance of a lifetime.”