Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio avenged his loss against former champion Adriano Moraes and annexed a world title in the process.
“With the right skill and attitude, there is nothing impossible for anyone striving to achieve greatness” he said after he whipped out an incredible split decision-win over “Mikinho” during the main event of ONE: Pinnacle of Power held in Macau, China on June 23, 2018.
The ONE Flyweight World Championship was at stake in the bout and Eustaquio, entering the contest as the interim titleholder, made sure the undisputed belt comes back with him to the City of Pines as he left the Studio City Event Center.
He is the lone Filipino ONE title holder at this moment.
It was also the third time the 29-year old Team Lakay mainstay won against an opponent he lost previously to.
The Baguio City native got his championship aspirations derailed during his initial face-off with Moraes via guillotine choke submission in two rounds on September 12, 2014.
He also engineered reversals in a rematch against Anatpong Bunrad and Kairat Akhmetov with whom he succumbed to defeats in their first bouts.
The Brazilian fighter employed aggressive tactics in the first three rounds but the Team Lakay star’s vastly improved submission defense enabled him to weather Moraes’ multiple takedowns and several attempts to submit him through chokes.
The first round began with both fighters getting a feel of what the other is up to. Eustaquio fired kick to which Moraes countered with a left straight.
Prior to the bout, Eustaquio expressed his willingness to engage the champ on the ground.
He sure wasn’t kidding as he shot in for a takedown and brought Moraes to the mat with an outside leg trip.
Moraes, however, displayed his jiu-jitsu expertise and quickly gain control to threaten with various submissions.
Eustaquio’s fans must have shades of their first encounter in their minds but his improved ground game got them at ease as he escaped and eventually started dropping heavy ground and pound.
The action continued to hype in the second frame when Eustaquio countered a kick with a left hook which had the Brazilian reeling.
Ironically, “Mikinho” had the reach advantage but was very active in trying to close their gap, probably to maximize the use his grappling mastery, as Eustaquio continued firing from range.
Eustaquio escalated the volume of his strikes to open the third round in an effort to counter his rival who is now turning up the heat.
Moraes’ persistence, however, eventually paid off. He was able to pick up his Filipino foe and slam him to the mat. He then got control by moving into a half guard.
Eustaquio’s defenses, however, made it difficult for him to capitalize on the advantage.
The Brazilian again brought “Gravity” to the mat with single leg takedown to start the fourth but Eustaquio made it back to his feet, and connected with more solid strikes.
Sensing urgency, the Igorot fighter then made efforts to own the fifth frame.
The action was filled with several attempts by both fighters to lock in and make each other submit.
Moraes got the action to the ground again and sneaked in a kneebar submission attempt with about a minute to go.
Eustaquio rolled out of the hold and was able to score a takedown of his own. He delivered a knee to the defending champ and took control of his back to close the fifth round on a strong finish.
The pair exchanged positions on the ground with Moraes throwing punches from the top and “Gravity” retaliating from the bottom as time expired.
When the barker finally announced that Eustaquio was able to earn the judges’ favor after winning two out of three of the scorecards, giving him a victory via split decision, the ecstatic Filipino fans who filled the Studio City Event Center to support the Pinoy fighter agreed by cheering raucously in unison.
“The feeling is awesome. I want to thank all my Kababayans [Filipino countrymen] here who came out to support me,” the 29-year-old said in his post-bout interview.
“I came to Macau with one vision, and that is to unify the Flyweight World Titles, and I know I was not capable of doing this alone. I want to thank God, Team Lakay, and of course my family. And to all the fans, thank you so much for the undying support.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, when I started 14 years ago, this was impossible. But now, after 14 years, impossible is not a word, it is just a reason,” the Filipino said to the crowd following his epic win.
“Anybody can be a world champion, as long as you have the drive and the attitude. I am proud to be the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion this time.”
By: ARMANDO M. BOLISLIS with reports from JAPHETH G. TOBIAS