Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes has one goal on January 25 and that is to wear the ONE Flyweight World Title around his waist again.
At ONE: Hero’s Ascent in Manila, Philippines, he faces evolving mixed martial artist, Geje "Gravity” Eustaquio in the main event. The two had previously fought before, with each man taking home a victory. However, it is Eustaquio who currently holds the coveted ONE World Title.
The Mall Of Asia Arena will be the location for their third meeting -- the first ever trilogy bout in the entire history of ONE Championship.
" It’s an honor to have the first trilogy in ONE history against Geje,” Moraes says. “But my focus is getting back to the top of the division, and it is only him standing in my way.”
With two matches charged to his experience, Moraes has gathered enough information to come up with a strategy to secure a win.
They first met at ONE: Rise of the Kingdom in 2014 where the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt made Eustaquio tap out in the second round by way of a guillotine choke to claim the inaugural ONE Flyweight World Title.
Four years later, the Baguio native claimed the interim belt against Kairat Akhmetov and earned a rematch with Moraes for the right to be called the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion. They made the main event of ONE: Pinnacle of Power a match to remember by giving their all in a closely-contested bout which could have gone either way.
At the end of it all, Eustaquio wore the golden strap by way of split decision.
Moraes admittedly had difficulties matching Eustquio’s wushu strikes last June. This time however he is confident that he can overcome any challenge.
“I had some problems in my last camp that I have fixed in this camp so I can be better,” Moraes explains. “I think going into that bout I had some doubts about my striking. I watched it back, and my footwork was not working.
“Now my coach is back, and he is better than ever. With his help, I will be much more aggressive in my stand-up, and a much better mixed martial artist. I will put everything together much better.”
Moraes is also using the same dangerous grappler with a high-level ground game. Though he had success in grappling exchanges, he failed to secure the win with a submission. This time, Moraes plans to employ more offense-oriented approach for this trilogy.
“I think he had evolved very well in his grappling game for the second bout,” Moraes says. “My jiu-jitsu is better than his, so for this fight, I will be more aggressive.Sometimes I do too much jiu-jitsu and can be too relaxed, but in martial arts, you need to be more aggressive.”
Another factor that might have affected Moraes’performance was the fact that he became good friends with his rival. He guarantees though that these emotions will not get in the way of his pursuit to reclaim his World Title from a man that he grew to respect.
"I’m a big fan – he’s my friend from the mountains, and I’ve learned so much from him – but my focus now is to go for the top," he says.
"We have a new guy [Demetrious Johnson] in the flyweight division at ONE Championship, a guy I really want to fight against, and Geje is in my way.”
Moraes believes that the only person who can help him with his goals is a more aggressive “Mikinho”, who will not stop until his hand is raised.
“Now is my chance to show I am really the true champion,” he adds.