Danny Kingad has a record of 14-2. It compares favourably with just about anyone in the flyweight division but the 24 year old still dwells on those two defeats.

In 2017 he was submitted by Adriano Moraes in a title fight. The Brazilian still holds the belt today and will be defending it against Demetrious Johnson next.

‘D.J.’ is also on Kingad’s mind because he handed the Filipino just the second defeat of his career. There is no shame in losing to the current champion, or the greatest flyweight fighter of all time.

But Kingad wants to avenge those losses and is hoping to secure a rematch with either Moraes or Johnson,

“They’re the targets. They are the barometers of the division, and they handed me both of my losses, so yes, I hope to face them again,” he said.

Early start

The Team Lakay standout was handed a title shot after three ONE Championship wins. A couple of months after his 21st birthday he found himself facing Moraes who was a veteran of 18 fights and had won titles in Brazil and Asia.

He was submitted in the opening round and by Kingad’s own admission he wasn’t ready for such a step up,

“I think experience was a big factor in that match because it was just my second year in ONE at that time, and then they gave me a title shot already,” he said.

Kingad has subsequently seen teammate Geje Eustaquio beat Moraes, even if the Filipino was defeated in the trilogy fight. He has a blueprint for beating the Brazilian now and intends to utilize it,

“I think if I get to face Adriano again, I’ll come more prepared particularly in my takedown defense and submission defense. Those are the most important things to improve on. When it comes to striking, I’ll also have to polish my power so if there’s a chance to knock him out, I can capitalize.”

More aggression

Whereas Moraes finished him in the first round Kingad went the distance with Johnson. The two faced off in the final of the flyweight Grand Prix at ONE: ‘Century’ last year.

He sees one area in which there is definitely room for improvement,

“I was too excited when I entered the match. It’s something that I have to work on when we fight next.”

Kingad is coming off a decision win over Xie Wie at ONE: ‘Fire & Fury’ in January. It was the ninth time he has been the distance in his 12 fights for the promotion.

He thinks a lack of aggression might have cost him against Johnson and says he will look to be more ruthless if a rematch materializes,

“When we fight again, I really have to go and swing for the fences and look for a finish. The longer the match goes, the harder it is to take him on,” he said.

Remarkably consistent

The improvement that Team Lakay fighters have shown in recent years is remarkable. The likes of Eduard Folayang, Eustaquio and Joshua Pacio have all scored major upsets by beating the best fighters in their respective divisions.

While Kingad’s results have been remarkably consistent he believes he has made a similar improvement,

“I’ve continued to improve. The last few years have shown me the value of really working hard during training, focusing on sharpening my skill sets, and assessing my mistakes.”

Once live sport is able to resume Moraes will defend his flyweight title against Johnson. Kingad hopes to be at the front of the queue of fighters in line to face the winner.

He got four fights in last year and is one of the few fighters fortunate enough to have got a 2020 pay day before the coronavirus, or Covid-19, shut the combat sport scene down completely. Kingad is in a good position and is content to consider himself a top contender,

“I am happy that I am in this conversation, and I feel like I’ve changed (since) those matches.”

His team mates have a good record when it comes to avenging losses. Shinya Aoki, Bibiano Fernandes and, of course, Moraes can all testify to that.

Kingad is confident he will face either Johnson or Moraes again. And when the rematches do materialize the Filipino knows exactly what adjustments to make.