Danny “The King” Kingad has come close to ONE Championship glory in his young career, but at the age of 24, he has the potential to make the 2020s his decade.
Kingad’s opponent emerged as one of the hottest rising stars in China last year as he tore through ONE Hero Series with four TKO wins, and then added to his streak by knocking out Rockie Bactol at ONE Warrior Series 9 in December.
Those results showed the 23-year-old from Qingdao packs a huge punch, but “The King” is not worried about that. In fact, he thinks it means he will have a better chance to show off his own skills in Manila’s Mall Of Asia Arena.
“I think it will be a good chance to show him our brand of striking,” says the Team Lakay superstar.
“I’m always hungry to show my skills in striking, which is why I’m excited to match up with someone like him who is not afraid to stand up with his opponent.”
Because of Xie’s success on The Home Of Martial Arts’ platforms for rising stars, it has been tricky for anyone at Team Lakay to identify any weaknesses.
As a result, Kingad has focused on himself and prepared for the worst that his rival throws at him. Allied with a sound strategy from his coaches, he is confident he will kick off the year in the perfect way.
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“When I watched his match against Rockie, there wasn’t much to see as their bout lasted only one round,” he admits.
“However, I’m ready to take what he’s got, be it striking, wrestling, grappling, or whatever it is. I’m not afraid of where our match will go, as I’m ready in any aspect.
“I’m preparing my body to be tougher so that I can take whatever he throws at me. We have a game plan in place, and while I wouldn’t want to share it, I know that it will help me get the win if executed properly.
“I don’t focus on how the bout will end. The most important thing for me is that when the final bell has sounded, it will be my hand that will be raised.”
Another factor that should help to lift Kingad for this match-up is that it will take place in front of his compatriots.
While some athletes feel added pressure to perform in front of their own fans, “The King” seems to thrive. Their support has helped to lift him to five wins from six bouts at the Mall Of Asia Arena, including a stirring, come-from-behind victory against Reece “Lightning” McLaren.
That is why the man from Baguio City is looking forward to competing in Manila once again.
“I feel like the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages,” he said.
“I’m excited to compete in the presence of my countrymen to start the year. I know that they will bring out the best in me as they always have when they cheer me on.
“This will be my first match in 2020, and it will be in my home country. The match certainly means a lot for me, and I’m really excited to show everyone some of the new things I have in store for them.”
A victory is probably the least many of those supporters will expect from a man whose incredible winning streak in show-stealing bouts was only stopped after a competitive bout against the man considered by many to be the greatest pound-for-pound mixed martial artist of all time, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.
Now, armed with a wealth of experience from his run of impressive performances, Kingad is excited to kick off the year with a win, and then move on to greater heights.
“I want to prove that I can overcome any challenge that comes my way,” he concludes.
“There are a lot of people who I want to take on because this is truly home to some of the best in the world. I can’t single out any of them. All I can say is, ‘Bring it on.’”