GEJE Eustaquio has learned a lot since his loss to top contender Kairat Akhmetov in their first showdown inside the One Championship cage.
Eustaquio, 28, may have won that fight in the very first round back in September after stunning Akhmetov with upkicks from the ground before referee Yuji Shimada made the wrong call of letting the Kazakh rest. Akhmetov then showcased his ground game to frustrate Eustaquio for the rest of the match and come away with a split decision win.
The Team Lakay standout, though, looks to apply those lessons in their rematch set as the main event of ONE: Global Superheroes on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena for the interim flyweight title.
“It was a learning experience for me. I knew that going into the match, it would be one of the biggest challenges that I’ll face him being a former world champion,” said Eustaquio who admitted that there are a lot of things that he could have done even after the blunder of Shimada in the first round.
“I lost focus of the game plan and played Akhmetov’s pace instead of taking the fight on the feet,” he added. “I would have loved to have won but it is what it is.”
A win here for the 5-foot-5 slugger will give him a chance at unifying the belt against the dangerous Adriano Moraes sometime this year – making him the third fighter out of the fabled Team Lakay stable to become a world champion following Honorio Banario and Eduard Folayang.
That’s why Eustaquio has sacrificed a lot in order to come in this fight prepared, training without fail for the whole December.
“In order to be the best, we have to make sacrifices. It isn’t easy,” Eustaquio continued.
“I have to make that sacrifice. In the end, I will reap the fruits of my labor. Hard work cannot be denied forever,” he added.
Despite the controversial ending of their last match, Eustaquio still has some good words for his Kazakh foe, knowing that it will take a lot for him to score that victory against Akhmetov.
“He has a big heart. Kazakhstani martial artists have big hearts, and lots of pride. They do not go down easily, and are very tough. I am expecting another difficult bout. That is why I am preparing very well,” said Eustaquio.