January 15, 2019 – Manila, Philippines: In the constantly-expanding world of martial arts, the path to the apex of success is paved with much sacrifice as all competitors must go through blood, sweat and tears in training.
Furthermore, martial artists have to be separated from their families for months to dedicate their lives to the craft that they seek to perfect.
Filipino superstar Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio had to undergo the same process as he had to give up numerous special occasions with his family and friends to fully focus on his training.
“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. Spending time away from friends and family to train isn’t easy,” he said.
Eustaquio is slated to defend the ONE Flyweight World Championship against Brazilian rival Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes in the main event of ONE: HERO’S ASCENT, which emanates from the 20,000-capacity Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines on Friday, 25 January.
The headlining flyweight clash at the promotion’s first event on Philippine soil in 2019 is a rubber match of their grueling collision at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER in June 2018, where Eustaquio defeated Moraes by way of razor-thin split decision to unify the ONE Flyweight World Titles
For his highly-anticipated third encounter against Moraes, Eustaquio did not have the chance to fully savor Christmas and the rest of the Yuletide season.
“It’s part of being a professional martial artist. A lot of sacrifices have been made. Training in December was one of them,” he stated.
“I had to give up Christmas celebrations for this fight. I missed a lot of family activities such as birthdays and reunions.”
According to Eustaquio, the most painful sacrifice is not being able to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year with his beloved family, but he knows that there is a reward waiting for him.
“If I want to consider myself as a championship-quality athlete in this sport, I have to make that sacrifice. In the end, I will reap the fruits of my labor. Hard work cannot be denied forever,” he mentioned.
At ONE: HERO’S ASCENT, the 29-year-old Baguio City native aims to turn his sacrifices into gold as he looks to replicate his victory over Moraes seven months earlier and retain the intricately-crafted belt in front of his countrymen.
“In our rematch last June, I was able to execute my game plan properly and defended his grappling effectively. I was also able to score some takedowns on my own, which I know surprised him and confused him,” Eustaquio recalled.
“I learned a lot from my previous wars and that brought me to victory.”
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 with a guillotine choke.
Eustaquio admitted that it was a tough defeat to digest, but he pointed out that he took a lot away from it by viewing it as a learning curve.
“That loss has taught me a lot. Ever since then, I have worked extensively in improving in all areas,” he said.
“I have worked extremely hard to get to this point because deep inside, I knew we would meet again.”
Armed with a much-improved ground game to go with his superb striking skills. Eustaquio settled 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.
“It was a learning experience for me, the first time I fought Adriano,” Eustaquio shared. “I knew going into the match that it would be one of the biggest challenges of my career.”
“That’s why I am the champion today because I learned my lesson. That’s the secret to my victory in the rematch.”
Although it appears that Eustaquio is riding a huge wave of momentum, he believes that getting the win will be no walk in the park.
“Adriano is hungry. He will bring something new to the table in our third fight,” he predicted.
Now tied at one win apiece, Eustaquio looks to put an end on his rivalry with Moraes by having his hand raised in triumph.
“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,” he declared.