He may be the ONE Interim Flyweight Champion, but Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio is far from at his peak.
The 29-year-old Filipino striker has been a constant threat at the sharp end of the ONE Championship flyweight division, but he has never rested on his laurels and stopped working to improve his martial arts skills.
It is that constant drive to improve that eventually saw him capture ONE Championship gold, when he defeated former world champion Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov to win the belt.
That desire to learn stemmed from his youth, when his family encouraged him to make the most of his studies and earn a college degree.
Eustaquio followed his parents’ wishes, but always had his heart set on a career in martial arts. Thankfully, he was able to combine the two by attending the University of the Cordilleras on a wushu scholarship.
And as a result, he exceeded his parents’ hopes and expectations, as he earned not one, but two degrees – a Batchelor of Secondary Education in 2009, then a Master of Arts in Physical Education in 2016.
Now he pursues his passion as one of the premier martial artists on the ONE Championship roster.
While some may view his academic studies as being separate to his sporting pursuits, Eustaquio takes a different view.
“Education is about learning and growing. It is about self-improvement – not just in the physical capacity, but also the mental and spiritual kind,” he explains.
“Our culture treats education as a passport to a high-paying job. Ever since we were young, we were taught that we had to study hard in school in order to get into a good company.
“For me, education is more than that. It is a pathway to becoming a better person.”
For Eustaquio, that desire to learn has helped take him to the top of ONE Championship’s flyweight division, and he has no intention of stopping now.
“I am a person who loves to compete, and then I like to reflect on my development afterwards,” he says.
“I can still remember my first ONE Championship event in 2012, and I compare it to my performances today. I have come so far, and my skills have evolved tremendously over the years. It is knowing that I have improved so much that makes me really happy.”
Initially, Eustaquio stepped into the cage as a pure striker, but over time he has progressed into a well-rounded mixed martial artist. On no occasion was that more evident than in his performance against Akhmetov in January.
“The Kazakh’s” grappling-first approach saw him edge a split-decision over the Filipino last September, but in their rematch over five rounds, it was clear Eustaquio’s skills had evolved.
Now “Gravity” is looking to earn the undisputed belt when he faces the reigning and defending ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER in Macau on Saturday, 23 June.
That, too, will be a rematch for Eustaquio, who was submitted by the Brazilian for the inaugural ONE Flyweight World Title in September 2014.
Nearly four years on from that bout, the Filipino says he will offer a completely different test to “Mikinho” the second time around.
“I am a much different fighter now. I have changed a lot,” he says.
“As long as I am alive, I will keep learning and improving. A wise man once said that dreaming only stops when you stop breathing.”
His main goal is to capture the unified ONE Flyweight World Title, but Eustaquio also has another ambition – to move into coaching and work alongside his longtime head coach at Team Lakay, Mark Sangiao.
“Learning makes us better people, and I will never stop learning – no matter what,” he says.
“I also love to teach and impart my knowledge to the youth.
“I love education. I think it is my spiritual gift.