Danny Kingad is looking to bounce back after his world championship disappointment.
The 22-year-old Filipino was on an impressive eight-bout win streak when he ran into ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes. But the experienced Brazilian just had too much for “The King” on the night, as Moraes ran out the victor via first-round submission.
Kingad looked out of sorts in that contest, almost as if the occasion had gotten the better of him. And the young Filipino star admits it may have been too much, too soon.
“Against Moraes, I had never experienced that level of competition before, so I had the jitters,” he told ONE Championship.
“It my first world title opportunity, and I did not know what to expect in that sort of situation. It caught me off guard a little bit.
“I was terribly nervous. I fell away from the game plan, and my mind went completely blank. Mentally, I just was not in it. If ever I get another chance at this, I know things will be different.”
Kingad has developed his skills at Team Lakay, a Baguio City-based team that has produced a string of ONE Championship stars and world champions. Their wushu-based style offers a spectacular striking-first approach that has seen a number of their products rise through the ranks to become big names in the cage.
Kingad says his shortcomings against Moraes had little to do with his training, which he says is only helping him improve each day. He put it down to a lack of experience, with the experience of losing that matchup itself serving as a valuable lesson for his future career.
“There is no problem with our training; we are running fluidly like a well-oiled machine. I just really have to work on my confidence. I was beaten mentally, and that is what I have to fix. I have to be stronger in the mind,” he said.
“I feel very confident and strong in training, but I need to work on transferring that confidence into my performances. The skills are there, but the confidence is not. That is what I am working on.
“The experience has been great for me and my development. I have learned so much more from this than any of my wins. I have a lot of things to improve on, and I am working very hard to make sure I am ready for my next bout.”
Team Lakay has produced the likes of former ONE Lightweight Champion Eduard Folayang, former ONE Featherweight Champion Honorio Banario, and current ONE Interim Flyweight Champion Geje Eustaquio. Now, Kingad wants to follow in his more senior teammates’ footsteps, and capture championship gold of his own.
To move one step closer to that goa,l he’ll have to take on and defeat Sotir “The Trouble” Kichukov, a 13-7 contender from Bulgaria, at ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY on Friday, 9 March in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Kichukov lost his last outing to Chinese wrestler Ha Mao Bin in a competitive bout that went all the way to the scorecards, but Kingad says he won’t be taking his opponent for granted.
“I know he lost his last bout, and he is hungry to win. I know he will give his best in our bout, but I will make sure that my hand will be raised,” said Kingad.
“His strengths are is wrestling and his ground game, but I am ready. [At Team Lakay], we have been training more on our wrestling and ground game. Again, I learned a lot from my last bout.”
At 22, Kingad may still be incredibly young in his martial arts career, but the experience of losing to a seasoned world champion in Moraes seems only to have bolstered his resolve, as he looks to embark on the next chapter of his career.
“I feel very comfortable and confident for this bout with Sotir,” he said.
“Because losing in my last bout against Moraes has made me more eager, hungrier, and more determined to win.”