Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio finally turned his dreams into a reality.
This past Friday, 26 January, at ONE: GLOBAL SUPERHEROES in Manila, the 28-year-old Filipino hero defeated former flyweight world titleholder Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov to become the new ONE Interim Flyweight World Champion.
Eustaquio suffered a split decision loss to Akhemetov in their first meeting last September at ONE: TOTAL VICTORY, but with gold on the line in their rematch last weekend, he made the most of his second shot at glory with an impressive outing.
All throughout the five-round battle, the Baguio City native stifled Akhmetov’s takedown attempts and showcased his world-class striking en route to a unanimous decision victory.
For the past six years, Eustaquio has been a loyal stalwart of ONE Championship. Now that he has been crowned the ONE Interim Flyweight World Champion, here are six things to know about the man they call “Gravity.”
#1 His Parents Did Not Support His Martial Arts Pursuits
Eustaquio may be the ONE Interim Flyweight World Champion now, but his pursuit of the martial arts was not something his parents wanted for him when he was a child, growing up in a small mountain community of the Philippines’ Benguet province.
Instead, the flyweight’s mother wanted him to seek higher education, much like his sisters who studied nursing and engineering, and anything that got in the way of that was seen as an obstacle rather than a hurdle to overcome.
“In our region, our culture is simple. You go to school, you graduate with your degree, and you go find a job,” Eustaquio says.
“When I was in college, [my parents] did not want me to play sports because it was a distraction. They did not want me to do martial arts, but I was a hard-headed boy and I was stubborn. I wanted to prove to them that I could do a lot of things at the same time.”
#2 His Grew Up Without His Dad For 10 Years
Due to a lack of work around their home province, Eustaquio’s father was forced to move abroad to look for a way to support his family, and spent 10 years away from home as a result. That left “Gravity” in a position where he had to assume a new role as the man of the house, despite still being a child himself.
Eustaquio did his best to help support his mother and two sisters, while also going to school and eventually starting on his path towards a career in martial arts. It was not easy, but he was dedicated and determined.
“It was a bit tough. I was just a little kid,” he explains. “I had to stand for the family. Of course the very important part of being a man is you have to make the family proud.”
#3 He Was A Wushu National Champion
Although Eustaquio’s parents insisted their son to remain focused on his education, he was still passionate about the martial arts, and that eventually led him to try out kickboxing when he was still a teenager.
From there, “Gravity” discovered wushu at the age of 14, and it became the discipline that changed his life forever. He fell in love with the sport, and became one of the country’s most talented practitioners.
Eustaquio eventually earned a wushu scholarship in 2005 at the University Of The Cordilleras, which allowed him to attend college for free and practice martial arts on a daily basis.
Over time, he became a filipino wushu national champion, and even secured a spot on the Philippines National Wushu Team. He trained extensively under head coach Mark Sangiao, joining Sangiao’s Team Lakay soon thereafter.
#4 He Holds Both Bachelor’s And Master’s Degrees
Fulfilling his parents’ wishes, Eustaquio continued his education while blazing a trail in martial arts.
The Filipino earned both a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and a Master’s Degree in Physical Education, which led him to teaching for a year after college. He taught music, arts, physical education, and health in a secondary school. While teaching was a job for Eustaquio after college, it was not his passion.
“I was done with my degree. I was so excited to apply it to my work,” he admits. “Then I tried it for a year. My world became so small. My job took all of my time. They get you from 7:30am in the morning to 5:30pm in the afternoon, then you have homework and paperwork. I was like, ‘No, I am too young for this.’”
#5 His Professional Debut Happened By Chance
As much as Eustaquio loved martial arts, he did not actually plan to pursue it as a career until an opportunity came up in February 2011.
A Filipino promotion desperately needed athletes to compete on their show, and Sangiao encouraged him to take a shot.
“Coach Mark said, ‘Why not try?,’” Eustaquio recollects. “So I said, ‘Let’s go!’’’
The end result was “Gravity” finishing his opponent by knockout less than a minute into the opening round. A year later, he joined ONE Championship, and has been a fixture on the global scene ever since.
#6 The Second Time Was The Charm
Eustaquio actually challenged for the inaugural ONE Flyweight World Championship back in September 2014, but ultimately came up short in his bid to win the belt, after he was submitted by Adriano Moraes via guillotine choke in the second round.
Following that heartbreaking loss, the Filipino experienced some mixed results before catching fire. In September 2017, he was matched up with Akhmetov, who had just lost the world title and experienced his first career defeat in a bout against Moraes a month earlier.
It was a closely-contested encounter, where Eustaquio rattled “The Kazakh” early, and ended the bout dropping ground strikes from his opponent’s guard. Still, it was not enough, as Akhmetov left the cage with a split decision victory.
The way that bout played out led to “Gravity” getting his rematch this past weekend at ONE: GLOBAL SUPERHEROES, and he made the most of his opportunity.
This time, he made sure there was no room for doubt, scoring a unanimous decision to realize his dream of becoming a world champion.