ONE Championship’s first-ever trilogy bout between Brazil’s Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes and the Philippines’ Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio at ONE: HERO’S ASCENT provided an enthralling five-round clash at the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
Moraes, who emerged victorious via unanimous decision, chose to put his ONE Flyweight World Title celebration on hold. Instead, he kneeled with his opponent and gently placed the golden belt in between them.
The pair briefly reminisced on their friendly feud, and exchanged a few handshakes and words in the process.
“When we finished our trilogy in ONE Championship, we just said, ‘Thank you very much for making me a better person, a better fighter every day. Thank you for this match,’” the 30-year-old Brazilian said.
“Me and Geje worked together for six long years. When I signed with ONE Championship, Geje Eustaquio was here already. I respect him a lot.”
Moraes described Eustaquio as someone who is more than just a mixed martial arts opponent to him.
“We have that history together. We are opponents, but we are friends, too,” he continued. “We are ONE Championship teammates.”
The third encounter also showcased how far the duo have come in their journey at The Home of Martial Arts.
Eustaquio displayed better ground defense on the canvas, while Moraes managed to withstand his adversary’s striking onslaught throughout the five-round affair.
The 29-year-old Filipino was forced to operate off the back foot from the beginning. but countered well with punches.
Moraes brought out a different game plan in the second stanza as he took his counterpart to the mat and went in search for a submission.
The Team Lakay athlete surprised “Mikinho” with his grappling skills in the second frame, but knew he had to remain on the feet if he wanted to beat him.
“Gravity” romped his defense in the third round and kept the match on the feet, but the turning point came in the fourth stanza as the Brazilian pulled off a rare Suloev Stretch. He remained calm, but returned to his feet a minute later despite moving on a wobbly left leg.
The final round saw Moraes return to his specialty as he secured a takedown. Once the final bell rang, the judges all agreed the Brazilian had done enough to earn the victory and the belt.
“Oh man, did you see that? Man, I love that position. I call that position the ‘Mikinho Kneebar From The Back,’” he said.
“In training, every time I get that position, everybody taps, and Geje didn’t tap. He’s a true warrior. Congratulations to him, man.”
Eustaquio may have suffered defeat in front of his countrymen, but he expressed his gratitude to his longtime Brazilian rival.
“I was thanking him for bringing [out] the best version of Geje Eustaquio,” the Filipino said. “Without Adriano, I am not as skilled as [I am] right now. I am not as good as [I am] right now. It’s all because of him.”