MMA: Geje Eustaquio emphasizes importance of his growth in crucial bout

Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 14 2018 06:05 AM

Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio will have another go versus his Kazakh tormentor, former ONE flyweight champion Kairat Akhmetov, on January 26 in Manila.

But this time, the stakes are higher. Aside from the fact that the fight will be staged as a main feature in the Manila card, the ONE interim flyweight title will be on the line.

“Napakahalaga ng rematch na ito para kay Geje considering na title fight na rin s’ya,” said Eustaquio’s coach, Mark Sangiao of the famed Team Lakay.

Eustaquio is one of the more technical fighters to come out of Team Lakay, but he lost a razor-thin decision to Akhmetov in September.

Eustaquio damaged Akhmetov with a couple of upkicks in the first round. The referee, however, temporarily halted the fight and inadvertently allowed the dazed Kazakh to recover. 

Akhmetov later troubled Eustaquio with his wrestling, enabling the Kazakh to carve out a decision win.

Sangiao said Eustaquio has learned to correct his lapses from the first fight.

“Pinag-aaralan kasi niya iyong mga past fights niya. Tinitignan iyong weakness niya nung mga huling laban,” he said. “He’s a wise fighter at pinipilit niyang mag-grow.”

Sangiao said if Eustaquio plays his cards right against Akhmetov on fight night, the Philippines will have a new MMA champion.

“Kasi pangarap niyang maging champion din,” said the Team Lakay coach. “Kaya napakahalaga ng laban na ito.”

Eustaquio actually foresaw the rematch happening.

Following his defeat to Akhmetov, he felt their paths would cross again. 

“Maybe someday we'll meet again inside the ONE Championship cage. If that happens, he will face an improved version of Geje Eustaquio,” the fighter said back in September.

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)