Team Lakay's Geje Eustaquio gets unexpected challenge from Cuban Gustavo Balart

Santino Honasan on Nov 22, 2019 03:52 PM
Geje Eustaquio gets unexpected challenge from Gustavo Balart
"If he is willing to go back to flywieght, I can fight him in flyweight.” - Geje Eustaquio on Gustavo Balart (Photos courtesy of ONE Championship)

After his scintillating KO victory against Toni Tauru at ONE: Masters of Fate in Manila, Geje Eustaquio is looking forward to enjoying the upcoming holiday season with his family. 

For now, there isn’t anything on tap for the former ONE Flyweight World Champion in 2020, but there is someone who’s issued a challenge to “Gravity”. 

Eustaquio shared that during the ONE Masters of Fate Open Workouts a few days before event night itself, he was challenged by Cuban wrestler Gustavo “El Gladiador” Balart, who was also competing on the last Manila card for 2019. As he explained, the diminutive Balart - who had endeared himself to Pinoy fans because of his heart and his fighting style during his last time out in Manila - expressed his willingness to get inside the Circle with the Team Lakay star. 

The challenge came as a bit of a surprise to the former flyweight king. “Na-surprise ako eh. Iniisip ko kung ano yung point ni Gustavo, does he want to earn money, or does he want to have more fights dun sa resume niya?”

After competing at flyweight for his first three ONE Championship bouts, Balart made his strawweight debut at ONE: Masters of Fate but apparently had a hard time passing the weight and hydration tests. 

Fight night wasn’t any better for the former Olympian wrestler, who ended up getting knocked out by Robin Catalan in the preliminary card. 

Being that the Team Lakay members aren’t really the type to choose opponents, Eustaquio says he’s willing to welcome Balart back to the flyweight division. 

“It's a good fight naman siguro, and as we have seen, nag-susuffer naman pala siya sa strawweight, medyo hirap siya sa hydration, malaking factor din yun siguro, so if he is willing to go back to flywieght, I can fight him in flyweight.”

On paper, it may not make a lot of sense to match up a former titleholder with someone who’s yet to record a win under the ONE banner, but Eustaquio isn’t looking at it that way. Rather, he’s taking it as an opportunity to test himself against a high-caliber grappler. 

Wrestling, after all, is one of the perceived weak points of the Benguet-based MMA stable. 

“I understand he came from three losses, but if you're going to check the guy, he's an Olympian. He's a very good wrestler, and you know na ang isang laging bina-bash sa atin, mahina daw tayo sa wrestling, wala tayong takedown defense, kaya kung siya siguro yung maipapartner sa akin, I have to work on my wrestling, kasi I'm going to face an Olympian wrestler.”

While it may seem unlikely that this match actually gets made, Eustaquio is just staying ready for whoever he draws next. 

“At the end of the day, whoever the opponent is, if they say it's Gustavo, I'm going to take the positive things and take the negative out.”


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