Anatpong Bunrad and Geje Eustaquio stepped into the cage for their eagerly anticipated rematch at ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES on Friday, 26 May, two years on from their exciting three-round battle in the Philippines.
Though Bunrad got the nod via split decision in the first encounter, there was not much to separate them in that absolute thriller of a matchup. It was to be more of the same at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Team Lakay’s Eustaquio was adamant he would even up the score, and he did exactly that, earning a split decision victory. It is sweet redemption for the man known as “Gravity,” who won the same way he lost the last time.
“It seems ironic. Maybe two years from now, we will have a trilogy,” he offers with a smile. “It depends on the call of ONE Championship. My job is to fight, not to choose, and not to decide.”
The first round was a tentative one, with both fighters seemingly wary of their opponent, given the measure they had of one another before. Bunrad was keen to press forward and command the center of the cage, but the footwork of his adversary had certainly improved, and he found himself inches from the target time after time. However, neither man made any significant impression to get their nose in front.
Moving to the second round, the Thai fighter continued to press forward, but Eustaquio was beginning to manoeuvre around the cage with more confidence, and return fire with precision. He was getting the measure of Bunrad’s shots, evading beautifully and delivering his own with combinations.
Although the Filipino was not finding the mark with the majority of his replies, he was becoming much more comfortable with the timing.
With everything to fight for in round three, the Team Lakay veteran’s game plan was beginning to pay dividends. He had his foe lunging further and further in an attempt to land, allowing him to counter more easily with punches and kicks that were full of intent.
The inside low kicks were taking their toll on Bunrad, and he was growing frustrated at being unable to hit the target. “Mak” finally barrelled his man to the ground after catching a kick, but Eustaquio was the aggressor, using punishing elbows from the bottom. The Filipino swept to the top and finished the fight there, completing the momentum shift that saw him confident of victory.
Two out of three judges scored it in his favor, and now the pair are neck and neck after 30 hard-fought minutes of fighting across their two bouts.
The Igorot warrior wanted to be more dominant, but takes the win and a few lessons with it.
“I have a few regrets in the fight,” he admits. “It is so hard to execute the things I wanted to do. I have to get back on the mats and train some more.”
Along with the rest of Team Lakay, “Gravity” continues his surge, and looks better with every outing. Moving to 9-5 and getting himself back to winning ways, a title shot could be in his crosshairs if he stays on the right track.
Bunrad drops to 5-3 with back-to-back defeats. It will be back to the drawing board for the Belgium-raised Thai.