Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio has been known for his impeccable striking skills and ability to adjust when engaging on standup.
But in order to beat Kairat Akhmetov for the ONE interim flyweight title, he had to walk the extra mile especially on his ground fighting skills.
“I went down to Manila to train wrestling,” said Eustaquio after he outclassed the Kazakh wrestler in their rematch at Mall of Asia Arena Friday night.
And his vastly improved grappling skills was evident in the 5-round showdown.
In the first round, he attempted a knee bar against Akhmetov. The fancied Kazakh grappler threatened with a guillotine choke in the third round, but Eustaquio, with his newfound wrestling prowess, was able to withstand the attempt. In the fourth stanza, it was Eustaquio who attempted the same maneuver and Akhmetov was only lucky enough to survive the round.
“Five to six years ago, I didn’t even know Jiu Jitsu. What I know was sansou and take-down defense. Now you see me doing submission attempts. I’ve grown because I have the best people in the business backing me up,” said Eustaquio, while referring the revered Team Lakay.
His masterful striking coupled with his improved wrestling was more than enough to baffle Akhmetov, who had to swallow a unanimous decision loss. Last September, it was the Kazakh who walked away with the decision.
Eustaquio said he is proud to have brought a world title to the house of Team Lakay, like Honorio Banario and Eduard Folayang.
“The feeling is unexplainable,” he said. “Honorio had this, kuya Eduard had this and defended one time. We're proud because we have this.”
“But this belt is not mine to take, it’s ours. Thank you to my family who was always there from the start, coach Mark Sangiao, and the entire Team Lakay who never doubted me and always believed that one day I would stand here holding this belt.”
Eustaquio, however, admitted his work is not yet done.
He wants to avenge his defeat to Brazil’s Adriano Moraes, who is the current “full” flyweight king.
“I got a belt! Give me one more try and I hope to give you a better challenge this time,” he said.
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