MANILA, Philippines – Geje "Gravity" Eustaquio of Baguio-based martial arts club Team Lakay will face Kairat Akhmetov for the ONE Interim Flyweight World Championship on Friday, January 26, as they will banner the ONE: Global Superheroes tournament.
This will be the second meeting of the two martial artists in the ONE Championship cage. Akhmetov defeated Eustaquio in a closely-contested 3-round split decision during their first matchup.
However, ONE is adding two more rounds in this edition of the global sports media property. Eustaquio claims that the 5-round bout would benefit him, as he has been training double time in the high altitudes of Baguio City.
"If you're running for 100 meters for 5 times, we did 10 times this time. If I was lifting 100 pounds before, now I'm lifting double. So that's how we improved in the training in preparation for this coming fight," said Eustaquio.
"We also adapted something and a lot of repetitions in terms of the wrestling, defense and offense and of course I would like also to give emphasis on the accuracy."
Former ONE Flyweight World Champion Kairat Akhmetov is a veteran martial artist from Almaty, Kazakhstan. The 30-year-old boasts a solid 24-1 professional record amassed during a stellar martial arts career which has seen him dominate his opponents with tenacious wrestling and powerful striking.
"I am expecting another difficult bout. Kairat Akhmetov is tough and has a huge heart inside the cage. That is why I am preparing very well for this rematch," said Eustaquio.
"A victory over Kairat would land me a rematch against Adriano Moraes. I believe I have what it takes to become the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion in the future."
Team Lakay's Joshua Pacio will also be locking horns with China's Lan Ming Qiang, who will be making his promotional debut under the ONE Championship banner.
Pacio is looking to bring himself back to the ONE Strawweight World Championship title contention. The 22-year-old has only suffered two losses in his career and recorded 10 victories. All but one of his 10 career victories have come by spectacular finishes, which include 5 wins by submission and 4 by devastating knockouts.
"I have more experience [than Qiang], and I believe the two losses that I have suffered in my career have taught me a lot. I see those setbacks as an advantage, rather than just a blemish on my record," said Pacio.
"This match means a lot to me. I want to prove that I deserve to be competing on this international stage. I want to show to my countrymen that we also excel in martial arts, and to inspire more youths to pursue their respective dreams."
For the featherweight division, Eric "The Natural" Kelly of Team Lakay will be facing former Premier FC Lightweight Champion Rafael Nunes.
The veteran Kelly will be combining his solid striking techniques with high-level grappling skills against Nunes who has worked his way up by finishing his opponents by submission or by strikes.
Global Citizen Partnership
ONE Championship announced its partnership with Global Citizen on Monday, January 22, at the City of Dreams Grand Ballroom.
Global Citizen is an international advocacy organization whose goal is to end extreme poverty across the world by 2030. Through the worldwide community of Global Citizen, along with its high-level advocacy efforts and various partners, 130 commitments and policy announcements were made from leaders, including financial aid valued at over US $35-billion, that is set to affect the lives of over 1.3 billion people.
Through this partnership, Global Citizen and ONE will collaborate across 24 live ONE events scheduled in 2018, and hold various outreaches throughout Asia. Fans will also have the opportunity to take action and engage with specific policy areas including, education, food security, hunger and nutrition, global health, gender equality and empowerment.
“It is with great excitement that I announce ONE Championship’s partnership with Global Citizen, an NGO with the goal of ending extreme poverty across the world by the year 2030," said Chairman and CEO of ONE Championship Chatri Sityodtong.
Co-Founder of Global Citizen Wei Soo adds that the partnership will extend the organizations' reach to Asia.
“We are thrilled to be joining forces with ONE Championship to bring Global Citizen to Asia. ONE Championship reaches millions of young people around the region and together we will engage them on issues that impact the entire world," said Soo.
Sityodong believes that martial arts can help alleviate poverty through the values that it teaches its athletes. The martial artists embody the spirit of perseverance from their long training hours and they become willing to share these values with others.
"Martial arts is about the values of integrity, humility, honor, respect, courage, discipline, the thousand of hours that all of us here have spent learning martial arts our entire lives.
"That's how we inherit such beautiful gifts, but that's why we're so privileged to stand here that it is our duty, our responsibility to change the world for the better, to lift everyone around." – Rappler.com