Geje Eustaquio might have come up short in a title shot against Adriano Moraes, but no flyweight has ever beaten the Brazilian, and the 26-year-old remains ambitious ahead of his return to the cage at ONE: Valor of Champions.
“For me it was a great lesson which will help me to achieve perfection. Every time I lose I learn a lot and I believe with my hard works a rematch will be given in God’s time,” Eustaquio said.
Moraes has beaten some of the best flyweights in Asia and is rapidly establishing himself as one of the promotion’s biggest stars alongside the likes of Shinya Aoki, Bibiano Fernandes and Ben Askren. It’s difficult to envisage anyone in the division beating the Brazilian, but Eustaquio believes it will happen one day.
“For me, all of the flyweight fighters in ONE Championship can beat Adriano, but it simply depends on the ingredients that they are going to bring to the table. Because champions are not born, they are made. If you dare to beat the champion you should be willing to act, perform, think and work like a champion.”
“Champions are not born, they are made” is the motto of Team Lakay and Eustaquio’s camp is renowned for producing fighters with superb stamina who will attack relentlessly. It’s a formula that has proved very effective and one he is likely to employ once again when he faces Anatpong Bunrad at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on Friday.
It will be Eustaquio’s first fight in Manila for nearly 18 months having competed recently in both Jakarta and Phnom Penh. He is excited to be returning to the venue where he defeated Eugene Toquero by decision in 2013.
“I miss the MOA Arena. 20,000 shouting fans… Wow!”
Bunrad is a Thai fighter who is based in Belgium and has a background in kickboxing and BJJ. He won his ONE Championship debut in 26 seconds. Eustaquio has plenty of respect for his opponent, who will be fighting at flyweight for the first time.
“He is a complete fighter and a warrior.”
While Bunrad is dropping down a division, there has been some speculation that Eustaquio could cut to 115 pounds and try to compete for the title as a strawweight. However, he says he would only contemplate a move after winning the belt and it would be upwards not downwards.
“I’m comfortable in 125 pounds. If I’ll get that belt maybe the next level is going up at 135 pounds. I think I’d be a baby at 135 pounds, but as the great Anderson Silva said, ‘If size matters then the elephant would be the king of the jungle.’”
Team Lakay has an enormous roster of flyweights, strawweights and bantamweights, which makes for some competitive sparring. Having dominated the MMA scene in the Philippines, the fighters from Mark Sangiao’s camp are starting to make their mark internationally and Eustaquio says the training methods are continuing to evolve and improve.
“Training is scientific and smarter this time. It makes me excited every day as I enter our training place because I’m always curious with the new things and the skills to learn.”
Since signing for ONE Championship, Eustaquio has never had an easy fight and has been repeatedly thrown in with some of the toughest flyweights in the region. He’s in for another tough test on April 24, but the 26-year-old will be determined to resurrect his title ambitions with a win in front of the Filipino fans in Manila.
ONE: Valor of Champions is set for the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Manila on April 24 and the entire event can be purchased for 9.99 USD from http://www.onefc.com/livestream.html.
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