Danny “The King” Kingad is arguably the most exciting prospect in ONE Championship’s flyweight division. The 21-year-old Filipino, simply known as “King” by his Team Lakay training partners, has dominated his opposition en route to a flawless professional record of 5-0.
On Saturday, 29 July, the proud Filipino warrior will receive another opportunity to extend his perfect record, display his prodigious talent, and take another step towards a title shot. Kingad is slated to clash with China Top Team’s Hexigetu at ONE: CONQUEST OF KINGS, which takes place at the GOR Kertajaya Arena in Surabaya, Indonesia.
“It will be an exciting fight. I will do my best. If he wants to strike, then I will strike with him,” the Baguio City native states. “I cannot say I will knock him out, but I can only say I will win this fight.”
Kingad has always possessed a positive attitude, even at the bleakest of times.
Despite growing up in poverty, going without meals, and losing his father during his adolescent years, the young “King” found salvation through wushu. His older brother and cousin encouraged him in his martial arts endeavors, and he ultimately earned a scholarship to the University of the Cordilleras based on his accomplishments.
While at university, he was coached by Team Lakay mastermind Mark Sangiao. Soon, the Baguio City resident transitioned into mixed martial arts, and made his professional debut in November 2014 on the Filipino scene.
Kingad won his first two matches handily, and even won a regional wushu tournament championship in 2015 as icing on the cake. He then signed with ONE Championship in 2016, where he has lit up the organization’s flyweight division ever since.
Kingad made his promotional debut at ONE: GLOBAL RIVALS in April 2016, quickly punching out Muhamad Haider and earning a first-round TKO victory. Eight months later, he submitted well-respected knockout artist Eugene Toquero via armbar at ONE: AGE OF DOMINATION.
Perhaps his most impressive performance happened this past April, when he dueled the “Jungle Cat” Muhammad Aiman at ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY in Manila. Though threatened at times, especially towards the end of the bout via a last-ditch triangle choke attempt, Kingad controlled the Malaysian for the better part of 15 minutes with strong takedowns and an overwhelming ground game. He earned the unanimous decision nod that night.
“Aiman is good. He is hard to fight. He is very technical. That is why I could not submit him in that time. It surprised me,” Kingad acknowledges. “I learned so many lessons, like I need to do more sparring.”
In anticipation of his big match-up at ONE: CONQUEST OF KINGS on 29 July, the Filipino flyweight is taking the knowledge he learned from his last bout, and applying it to his training camp.
“King” trains twice a day, five days a week, at Team Lakay amongst respected veterans including ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang, former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio Banario, and former bantamweight title challenger Kevin Belingon.
He participates in a two-hour morning session with cardio exercise incorporated in the regimen, and then follows that up with a more extensive three-hour afternoon session. Saturday mornings are reserved strictly for sparring.
All of that training will be needed as he goes up against Hexigetu, a newcomer to the ONE Championship cage.
Hexigetu is a sanda practitioner who trains out of China Top Team. Ever since making his professional debut in 2014, the 32-year-old native of Inner Mongolia holds a 4-2 record, with three of those wins coming by way of submission.
While the Chinese flyweight has the grappling prowess to compliment his striking acumen, Kingad feels confident in his ability. He is focused on leaving Surabaya with a victory and believes that will bring him closer to his ultimate goal.
“My goal is to be champion,” he says. “If I win this fight and ONE Championship wants to give me a chance to fight for the title, then I will be ready to do that. If not, then I will be training harder and I will continue to do my best.”
What’s more, Kingad will be able to see firsthand who he might come up against one day. Headlining on the same night are ONE Flyweight World Champion Kairat Akhmetov and interim titleholder Adriano Moraes, who will be battling to unify the titles and become the undisputed best flyweight in the world.
If Kingad were to continue his impressive run, he just might follow in the footsteps of his close friend and teammate Joshua Pacio, and challenge for a ONE World Championship in future.