Michael “The Voice” Schiavello has called many martial arts tournament finals during the course of his 28-year career as a sports commentator, but none have been quite as historic as the upcoming flyweight showdown in Tokyo, Japan.
This coming Sunday, 13 October, he will call the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Championship Final between Filipino prodigy Danny “The King” Kingad and pound-for-pound king Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson at ONE: CENTURY PART I.
Schiavello – like many fans around the world – knows the American is entering the finale as the favorite to win. After all, he is one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time.
Despite that accolade, the 44-year-old Australian knows stranger things have happened in combat sports.
“Danny Kingad may be one of the biggest long shots in mixed martial arts history going into this one,” he says.
“It may be longer odds than when Buster Douglas fought Mike Tyson. But on that occasion, we saw a massive unexpected upset.”
Although Kingad is considered the dark horse, he possesses a skill set the veteran has not previously encountered. The 24-year-old is a wushu champion with a formidable grappling background.
That sensational combination led the Filipino to a 14-1 professional record, and he is currently riding a six-bout win streak.
“What Kingad brings to this match is a style of striking that Demetrious is not used to,” Schiavello explains.
“Johnson never went up against a striker of this caliber. In his glorious days as a 12-time Flyweight World Champion, he never went up against a wushu champion.
“That means there are all these angles – these side kicks, these leg kicks, these spinning back fists and boxing combinations – and footwork that Demetrious Johnson has to be preparing for.
“That’s what Kingad brings – that x-factor that is the wushu of Danny Kingad.”
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Kingad might have some tricks the American has not seen before, but according to Schiavello, that might not be enough.
“Demetrious brings in everything. He’s a faultless, flawless fighter, and you expect him to get the finish,” he continues.
“But like I said, stranger things have happened inside the Circle, inside the boxing ring, and inside of combat sports. And, for some reason, a lot of big upsets always happen in Japan.
“Kingad has to be smart. He has to use his wushu, he has to use his heavy hands, and he has to listen to [head coach] Mark Sangiao and that illustrious team in his corner, Team Lakay.
“He has to stick to the game plan and not let Demetrious break him down, get a hold of him, and put him to sleep.”
Schiavello thinks Johnson’s game plan will be a little more straightforward.
“Demetrious is going to feel him out for the first round,” he says. “In the second round, having found a [weakness in Kingad’s arsenal], Demetrious will look to put him away.”
Even so, the Australian sports commentator still cannot look past “The King” and the humble Baguio City stable that has prepared him for the greatest challenge of his life.
Team Lakay has previously defied the odds, as they house five ONE World Champions in their camp. Perhaps Sangiao and company can do it once again in the Japanese capital.
“The world expects that Demetrious is going to defeat him quite handily. But if there is one thing you can expect from Team Lakay, it’s that you cannot write them off,” Schiavello mentions.
“Just when you think they’re out, just when you think someone has all the answers, Team Lakay changes the questions. I expect Danny Kingad to change the questions come 13 October.”
Tokyo | CENTURY | ONE Championship’s 100th Live Event | Tickets: Purchase here
- Watch PART I in USA on 12 October at 8pm EST and PART II on 13 October at 4am EST
- Watch PART I in India on 13 October at 5:30am IST and PART II at 1:30pm IST
- Watch PART I in Indonesia on 13 October at 7am WIB and PART II at 3pm WIB
- Watch PART I in Singapore on 13 October at 8am SGT and PART II at 4pm SGT
- Watch PART I in the Philippines on 13 October at 8am PHT and PART II at 4pm PHT
- Watch PART I in Japan on 13 October at 9am JST and PART II at 5pm JST
ONE: CENTURY is the biggest World Championship martial arts event in history with 28 World Champions featured across various martial arts. No organization has ever promoted two full-scale World Championship events on the same day.
The Home Of Martial Arts will break new ground as it brings multiple World Title bouts, a trio of World Grand Prix Championship Finals, and several World Champion versus World Champion matches to the famous Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on 13 October.