After a tough setback the first time around, #2-ranked flyweight contender Danny “The King” Kingad believes he’s made the necessary adjustments for another crack at reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes.
The pair squared off four years ago, as Moraes retained his belt via first-round rear-naked choke. But the 25-year-old Kingad believes he’s grown since that defeat and would have a better shot to dethrone the Brazilian grappling wizard this time around.
“If they give me a shot at Adriano Moraes once more, for sure I’ll take it – I want it,” the Filipino says.
“Compared to the man who faced him back then, I’m a lot different. I’ve gained a lot of experience since that match, and I know that I’m ready for the World Title shot.”
Kingad has gone 7-1 in the division since his World Title challenge, only falling to 12-time Mixed Martial Arts World Champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson in the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Championship Final.
Johnson then challenged Moraes for the flyweight gold, but he was knocked out for the first time in his storied career – a loss that may have opened the door for Kingad to get the next opportunity.
Should “The King” indeed receive a second chance, he plans to showcase not only his personal development, but also that of Team Lakay as a whole. The famous squad from Benguet has risen from its humble beginnings and now features a world-class training center.
“I feel like I’ve improved a lot from that fight. Aside from being younger in that first match, [Team Lakay] has also improved in terms of how we prepare,” Kingad says.
“Now we have a better gym, we have better equipment, we have better training partners unlike before, where we had to work with what we had. If [the fight against Moraes] happens, I’ll be more prepared.”
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Of course, there are always backup plans, and if the clash with “Mikinho” doesn’t come to fruition, Kingad has another top flyweight contender in his crosshairs.
Kingad and Akhmetov have already been scheduled to meet twice, but “The Kazakh” withdrew from their Grand Prix semifinal due to injury, and their bout this past December was scratched due to COVID-19 protocols.
“It’s a bit frustrating,” Kingad says. “I’ve always wanted to face him. I’ve always wanted to try his wrestling and his improved striking, but as a professional athlete, things like that happen.
“I just have to make sure that I continue training so when that match happens, I’m ready.”
With that said, it doesn’t matter which opponent ONE puts in front of “The King” next. In any case, the Team Lakay star is promising to bring a whole new version of himself to the Circle.
“Looking back on my past fights, I still have a lot more to give. I still have to continue to improve on my ground game and my wrestling because that’s what professional athletes do,” Kingad says.
“They focus on their weaknesses and continue to attack them. That’s why even though I’m not scheduled to face anyone, I’m still in the gym and grinding.
“People can expect a different Danny Kingad each match. When they see me compete next time, it’s going to be a lot different.”
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