Danny “The King” Kingad may have stumbled in his first opportunity to capture the ONE Flyweight World Championship against division kingpin Adriano Moraes this past November, but now he is looking to rebuild some momentum and get another shot at the flyweight crown.
The 22-year-old Baguio City native is scheduled to make his return on 9 March as he is slated to duke it out with short-notice opponent Sotir Kichukov on the undercard of ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY, which takes place at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Kingad was originally scheduled to lock horns with Malaysia’s Gianni Subba on the aforementioned card, but the latter was called up to the main event to face Reece McLaren after Moraes withdrew from his defense of his flyweight crown against the Filipino-Australian dynamo.
It was a sigh of relief for Kingad that Kichukov accepted the offer to face him inside the ONE Championship cage on 9 March.
“It happened a little less than two weeks before the bout, so it was certainly nerve-wracking,” he admitted. “I am happy that he stepped up to take this bout. My preparations for my return to action will not be futile.”
Despite the last-minute change in opponent, Kingad admitted that he made necessary adjustments in his game plan as he seeks to walk out of the newly-renovated Axiata Arena triumphant.
“It’s a different opponent, so there are definitely some things you have to change up. But anything can happen in a bout and that’s always my outlook on it. You go into a match, [and] you have to adapt inside the cage. Surely, I will exert a great effort to win this bout,” he said.
A former Max Fight bantamweight titleholder, Kichukov owns 20 pro matches and has competed in three bouts under the ONE Championship banner.
Moreover, the 27-year-old Bulgarian journeyman has a penchant for spectacular submission finishes as eight of his 13 victories have come by way of tapout.
Kingad guarantees a better version of himself as he crosses paths with a hungry competitor like Kichukov, who aims to break his five-bout losing skid and notch his first win on Asia’s premier martial arts stage.
“There shouldn’t be room even for a single mistake in this bout. Expect that I will be a better competitor inside the cage. My team has prepared a good strength and conditioning program to level up my cardio. I made sure to sharpen my striking. I also invested time in my ground game,” he shared.
Kingad admitted that his first-round submission setback to Moraes almost four months ago acted as a reasonable opportunity to patch the loopholes in his skillset and mature as an athlete.
“It’s not a defeat. I think of it as a lesson. It has served as an inspiration and a reminder to work hard and push myself to the limit in training,” he stated. “I am still young, and there are a lot to learn in this sport. I believe great things are ahead of me.”
The young Team Lakay flyweight talent pointed out the he seeks to open his 2018 calendar on a high note through a convincing victory over Kichukov.
“The end of my 2017 left a bad taste in my mouth. My desire is to redeem myself and start my 2018 by winning my match against my Bulgarian opponent. I don’t want to sit here and be relaxed. I don’t want him to take my winning moment away from me. My mind is focused on getting that victory,” he concluded.