There is no better term to describe the ONE Championship rematch between Team Lakay’s Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio and Thailand’s Anatpong “Mak” Bunrad last Friday, May 26, at Singapore than “exact revenge” as Igorot Warrior prevailed the same way he fell during their first match-up.
Eustaquio convinced two of the judges to score the fight in his favor by repeatedly tagging Bunrad with pinpoint accurate punches and kicks while operating with his world-class wushu base when the two exchanged hostilities at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, in Kallang, Singapore.
Eustquio’s victory knotted the head-to-head win-loss count at 1 split-decision triumph each after 30 hard-fought minutes of fighting across their two bouts. Bunrad got the nod also via split decision in the first encounter at the Valor of Champions last April 24, 2015 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Both fighters were wary of giving the other any advantage in the first round. Bunrad looked to press the action and command the center of the cage but Eustaquio kept him at bay with counters that were just inches away from their target emanating from his improved footwork. Neither warrior made any significant impression to get their nose in front.
The Thai fighter continued to press forward in the second round but Eustaquio also started to find his rhythm atop his bicycle by dancing around the cage in avoiding Bunrad’s attacks and returning fire on the right moment with more accuracy.
Eustaquio’s counter tactic found fruition in the third. A frustrated Bunrad, probably thinking he was behind, started to fire attempts from a distance in desperation to land shots but instead missed and absorbed even more counters from Eustaquio, who got more confident in executing them.
Even when “Mak” finally succeeded to take Eustaquio to the ground after catching a kick, Eustaquio was still the aggressor, using punishing elbows from the bottom.
Eustaquio then got the insurance by reversing the position, going the top and finished the fight there, completing the momentum shift.
The win hiked Eustaquio’s record to 9-5. This fight also showed various improvements to his game like the rest of Team Lakay teammates. Bunrad dropped to 5-3 with back-to-back defeats.
Given the perfect standoff after two fights, a third one maybe necessary to break the tie. “It seems ironic. Maybe two years from now, we will have a trilogy,” said Eustaquio in an interview. “It depends on the call of ONE Championship. My job is to fight, not to choose, and not to decide.”
Meanwhile, reigning ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee overcame a spirited performance from challenger Istela Nunes to win by submission in the second round. After catching Nunes with a twister in the first stanza, the bout appeared all but over. However, through sheer willpower and determination, Nunes was able to power through the situation and survive. In the second round, Lee went right back to work on the ground, finishing Nunes with an anaconda choke to retain her title.
In the co-main event, reigning ONE Welterweight World Champion and Ben “Funky” Askren of the United States, one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, easily took care of previously unbeaten Agilan “Alligator” Thani of Malaysia, taking his younger foe down to the mat at will with his world-class wrestling and finishing him with an arm triangle choke. On the mat, the former US Olympian caught Thani in a mounted crucifix and pounded on the Malaysian before locking in the fight-ending submission just past the two-minute mark of the first round.
ONE Championship Newcomer Zebaztian Kadestam of Sweden knocked out American Top Team product Luis “Sapo” Santos of Brazil. Kadestam, who lives and trains at the scenic beach locale of Boracay, Philippines, weathered the early storm from Santos, who is known for his fast and aggressive starts. Midway into the third and final round, Kadestam found himself in dominant position and drove two hard knees to Santos’ head, knocking the Brazilian out.
In a historical first for mixed martial arts, American submission wizard Garry “The Lion Killer” Tonon forced former ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki in the first ever Grappling Super-Match. After an entertaining display of grappling mastery, Tonon emerged victorious, catching Aoki in a heel hook halfway through the contest, forcing the tap from the one-time Eduard Folayang victim.
Former ONE Strawweight World Champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke returned to action against Adrian Matheis, needing only one round to author a thrilling knockout finish. The 3-time Lumpinee Stadium champion and Muay Thai legend stifled his Indonesian foe with lightning quick kicks and heavy-handed punches. Towards the end of the opening stanza, Dejdamrong landed a powerful left hand that floored Matheis, earning him the knockout victory.
Lightweight prospect Amir Khan of Evolve MMA made quick work of opponent Rajinder Singh Meena, wasting no time in bringing the fight to the ground with a successful takedown. Once on the ground, Khan easily took full mount and punished Meena with punches and elbows. Meena succumbed shortly after, as the referee deemed him unable to continue giving Khan his fourth straight victory.
Singapore’s Tiffany “Soul Crusher” Teo turned in another complete performance, dominating the United States’ Rebecca Heintzman-Rozewski over three rounds to claim victory in front of her hometown crowd. Teo used her accurate striking to tag Heintzman-Rozewski repeatedly with left and right hand combinations while threatening with various submissions on the ground. All three judges judges scored the bout in favor of Teo.
Thai-Japanese female atomweight prospect Rika “Tinydoll” Ishige returned to the ONE Championship cage and dealt Indonesian wrestling champion Nita Dea a loss. Ishige once again proved her mettle on the ground with another technical grappling showcase, catching her opponent in two armbar attempts, ultimately winning by rear naked choke midway into the first round.
Unbeaten Chinese prospect “Rock Man” Chen Lei and Indonesian national grappling champion Jeremy “Predator” Meciaz kicked off the night in exciting fashion, blasting each other from the opening bell with wild punches. Both men wasted no time in going to battle at the center of the cage. With the two fighters spent after just a few minutes of action, it was Chen who came away with the win via referee stoppage in the first round.
By: ARMANDO M. BOLISLIS