Complacency is a non-existent word in the vocabulary of Danny “The King” Kingad as he gears up for a pivotal flyweight bout that could dictate the trajectory of his professional career this 2023.
The 27-year-old native of Sadanga, Mountain Province is penciled to lock horns with Indonesia’s Eko Roni Saputra on the main card of ONE Fight Night 7: Lineker vs. Andrade II, emanating from the fabled Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand on, Saturday, February 25.
For his return to action following a 14-month hiatus, Kingad ensured that he had all the help needed to cover all bases, including the intricate aspect of grappling in the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA).
After all, he is facing one of the most decorated grapplers on the ONE Championship roster today.
Saputra’s mastery of the mats speaks for itself, with his podium finishes in the freestyle wrestling category in two editions of the Southeast Asian Games.
Moreover, the Indonesian standout has seamlessly transitioned into MMA, winning five of his last seven outings by way of first-round submission.
Kingad expects nothing less from his upcoming opponent’s wrestling-heavy offense, and keeping it in check is what he feels will give him a leg up in their much-awaited encounter.
“I know I have to watch out for his wrestling, but he should also be ready for my ground game. I’ve worked on it and several more during training camp. I’m confident I can surprise him with a thing or two in the fight,” the Filipino ace stated.
The Team Lakay export's aura of confidence is pretty understandable, considering that he was one of the select few who attended Shinya Aoki's exclusive grappling seminar when the Japanese legend paid a visit to old rival Eduard Folayang in Baguio City, Benguet.
Along with his other stablemates, he had access to glance over a few pages of Aoki’s secret playbook.
“I undoubtedly picked up a lot from Aoki, who makes up for his lack of size and natural strength with simple techniques we frequently overlook in training. It is an honor to have the chance to train with him. I can’t wait to showcase everything I’ve learned from him in my upcoming fight,” said Kingad.
A week after Aoki’s trip to Baguio City, Team Lakay headmaster Mark Sangiao called for further reinforcement in the form of Ali Heydarabadi, an Iranian wrestling coach who played a vital role in the group’s resurgence in the mid-2010s.
Heydarabadi’s arrival came at the right time as it allowed Kingad to brush up on his wrestling a few weeks before flying to Bangkok.
Leaving no stone unturned in his preparation, “The King” is certain he can hold his own with Saputra on the ground.
“I’m more than ready wherever the match goes. It can be in striking, or we can take it to the ground. I know I have a lot of weapons in store for him,” Kingad declared.
ONE Fight Night 7: Linker vs. Andrade II is available at watch.onefc.com, as well as at One Sports and One Sports+ on Philippine television.