This weekend sees a fascinating match-up between Kairat Akhmetov and Geje Eustaquio in One Championship’s Flyweight division that takes main event status in Jakarta.
The Clinch witnessed Akhmetov’s first ever professional loss after 23 pro bouts last month when Adriano Moraes unbuckled the 52kg belt off the Kazakhs’s waist after taking the unanimous decision over five rounds in Macau at Kings and Conquerors.
It was a loss the man from Almaty claims has come as a massive relief as he faces the mercurial wushu of Eustaquio who is a One vet at six wins and four losses in the promotion.
The Filipino fighter from Baguio is primed to go the distance but will hope to scramble out of his opponents superb takedowns as Estaquio’s submission defence has not always been the best aspect of his game, and against a grappler of Akhemtov’s calibre, that could be a dangerous deficit to have, particularly as the Kazakh can only have one thing on his mind: a rubber match against Moraes and ultimate reclamation of the belt.
Not that it’s wise to look past Eustaquio whose last three victories have come against top-tier foes like Gianni Subba and Saiful Merican, the latter being especially impressive with a knock-down/soccer kick combo that echoed around the iconic Stadium Negara in KL.
It’s a classic striker versus grappler match-up, the type of which is unique to MMA and reminds us why it remains the most exciting combat sport on the planet.
It’s tempting to stick with the Kazakhstani’s experience and class, but Eustaquio has demonstrated his speed and power too often in the past to bet the farm.
Anything can happen this weekend in the Big Durian and as we’ve seen this year with One Championship, it probably will.