Danny Kingad has long dreamed of being known as the best martial artist in the world. But when the wushu stalwart known as “The King” received word that he would be competing for the ONE Flyweight World Title in his next bout, it took him completely by surprise.
“When coach Mark Sangiao revealed that ONE Championship had put me next in line for a shot at the ONE Flyweight World Championship, I was shocked. I was nervous,” admits the 22-year-old.
Kingad (8-0) is set to challenge reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes (16-2) for the prestigious title in the co-main event of ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD. The event is scheduled to take place on Friday, 10 November, at the state-of-the-art Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
“I thought to myself, ‘Am I ready?’” the unbeaten challenger admittedly wondered. “I have waited so long for this. Ever since I joined ONE Championship, I had my eyes set on becoming champion. This is what I wanted when I became a martial artist – to be the best in the world.
“Now that it is finally happening, and I have this opportunity right in front of me, the feeling of nervousness quickly turned into motivation.”
Now Kingad, on the cusp of greatness, gets the chance to prove to himself, and to the rest of the world, that he truly has what it takes to become a world champion. Deep in training in the high-altitudes of Baguio City, Philippines, “The King” is busy honing his skills to perfection.
“Although I am prepared for wherever this bout goes, whether it stays on the feet and we battle it out with our striking, or it goes to the ground and I have to deal with his high-level grappling, I will be ready,” Kingad says.
“Moraes is a beast on the ground, and I know he will be looking to take me down, so my team and I are preparing the best we can for an all-out war. I am making sure that my escapes and submission defense are there. My game plan is to definitely stay on the feet and strike with this guy, but if it goes to the ground, I will be ready.”
Kingad certainly has the tools for success with a strong body, a driven spirit, and a sound mind. But more importantly, he has what not many martial artists can lay claim to – a team of world-class brothers-in-arms at the famed Team Lakay.
Together, this incredible group of martial artists, led by legendary coach Mark Sangiao and ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang — who is headlining the event against ONE Featherweight World Champion Martin Nguyen — are dominating the Asian martial arts scene with their unique wushu-based style.
“The King” says he has taken the biggest lessons he could learn from his teammates, and has embedded their positive traits into his evolving skill set. Needless to say, Kingad realizes he is as ready as he will ever be against a champion of Moraes’ caliber.
“Adriano does not have many weaknesses. In fact, he is probably the closest to being a complete martial artist,” the challenger says. “His striking is on point, his grappling is top-notch, and you really cannot underestimate him for one minute.”
Despite how daunting of an opponent Moraes is, every competitor has his areas of improvement, even if Kingad is unable to fathom any aspect of the Brazilian’s game that he can exploit. If there is a perfect time to catch “Mikinho,” however, it is when he is not looking.
“He is open to counters, and all I have to do is land that one big shot,” the Filipino continues. “That is why I am working on my strength and power, so that when I do connect, it is going to be lights out.”
Moraes faced the toughest test of his career in 2016, when he ran into flashy Filipino striker Eugene Toquero, who nearly stopped him with a solid punch that connected cleanly.
If Kingad is able to land this type of shot, he believes it could earn him the highly-coveted title, and the chance to become the youngest flyweight world champion in history.
“Make no mistake about it, I am going for the knockout. This is going to be the most exciting bout of the year,” he concludes.