If there’s anyone on the ONE Championship roster who knows ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes and World Title challenger Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, it’s #2-ranked contender Danny “The King” Kingad.
After all, the young Team Lakay dynamo is the only athlete who’s gone up against both superstars.
That’s why Kingad is the perfect man to preview the historic clash between the world’s two best flyweights at “ONE on TNT I” this coming Wednesday, 7 April.
At first glance, “The King” believes the ONE Flyweight World Title clash on U.S. prime-time television could go either way.
“Honestly, this is a hard matchup to gauge. You can’t really be sure on who will end up winning,” he admits. “Having faced them both, one thing I can say is that they’re really, really strong fighters.”
Kingad’s more recent experience came against Johnson. The 25-year-old tangled with “Mighty Mouse” in the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Championship Final, where he lost to the legendary American via unanimous decision.
In that match, “The King” found out firsthand why many consider Johnson to be the greatest mixed martial artist in history.
“He’s the GOAT,” Kingad says. “He’s so technical, and he’s really, really quick. It’s so hard to stay in step with him.”
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Meanwhile, the then-undefeated Filipino challenged Moraes for the ONE Flyweight World Title when he was just a wide-eyed 22-year-old back in 2017.
Kingad didn’t last long against the Brazilian superstar, losing in the first round via rear-naked choke, but he believes their matchup would be much closer if it was contested today.
“When I fought Moraes, that was a long time ago, so it’s a bit different now,” the Team Lakay product states.
“I think I competed on short notice and I didn’t really prepare well for his reach and his grappling. That’s why the match ended up that way.”
Still, Kingad doesn’t want to take anything away from Moraes. He believes that like himself, “Mikinho” has improved a lot since their contest. Moreover, he thinks the Brazilian owns the necessary tools to bother Johnson – particularly in the striking department when they reach a deadlock in grappling.
“I expect Moraes to come in and have the reach advantage, which will work to his advantage when they’re on the feet. But he’s more than that, of course,” Kingad says.
“He’s a champion for a reason and he wouldn’t be here if he wasn’t good. One thing that’s most notable about him is his ground game. He can hang with Johnson on the ground.”
Of course, executing against Johnson is much different than planning for him. And for the Filipino prodigy, decision-making is the main thing that separates “Mighty Mouse” from “Mikinho.”
“The difference between the two will boil down to quickness, and I’ve seen how quick Demetrious Johnson is – both physically and mentally,” Kingad says.
“I think that’s what truly makes him great. He’s always a step ahead of everyone, he thinks quickly on his feet, and he already knows what you’re about to do even if you’re only thinking about it.”
When pushed to give his prediction, the Filpino refused to write off Moraes, but he ultimately sided with Johnson to score a hard-earned World Title victory.
“As I’ve said, it’s really hard to gauge this match,” Kingad says. “But if I’m to choose, I’m picking DJ via decision.”