Filipino ace Danny Kingad might have fallen short against former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, but the experience of sharing the cage against a future hall of famer has definitely boosted his confidence.

Both men collided in the Flyweight Grand Prix final last October at ONE: ‘Century’ in Japan. Johnson emerged victorious via unanimous decision.

The result was not what the Baguio City native hoped for, but after going the distance with the all-time pound-for-pound great, ‘The King’ now knows that he is capable of competing against the best athletes in the world.

“DJ is my idol. Fighting DJ is a big achievement. When I heard that DJ signed for ONE, I wanted to face him because we’re on the same division,” Kingad said.

“Everyone starts from the bottom, and now I’m here fighting DJ and I can say that somehow I am at par with DJ.”

Lessons learned

The 24-year-old standout was mostly on the defensive as ‘Mighty Mouse’ pressed the action from the opening stanza up to the final bell. Kingad had his moments here and there, which came as a surprise to him.

“I didn’t expect what happened. I didn’t expect that I could showcase those grappling skills, and I can take DJ down and somehow corner DJ. There were things I could have done better. Of course, I was disappointed because I lost, but DJ deserved it I guess,” he admitted

While Kingad took a heartbreaking loss, there is no question to how far he has gone, and will go as one of the top-tier flyweights in the world.

However, that recognition puts a big target on Kingad’s back. For some, the pressure might be too heavy to bear, but he is willing to face all comers to keep his place.

“There were many lessons I learned, and I needed to review the fight first to evaluate and get back to the gym,” he asserted.

“I think I did a great job, I put everything, so I deserve a rematch. I think I really put up everything. Even though I lost the match, I gave everything I got. Anyone. I’ll be ready to face anyone,” Kingad added.

Home comforts

Johnson is slated to challenge Adriano Moraes for the flyweight championship in April. Meanwhile Kingad returns at ONE: ‘Fire & Fury’ on Friday where he squares off with China’s Xie Wei in Manila.

Kingad, who earned victories over Reece McLaren, Senzo Ikeda and Tatsumitsu Wada over the past 12 months, is now 13-2 in his professional career. That includes nines triumphs in 11 appearances under the ONE Championship banner.

Both of Kingad’s wins over McLaren and Wada came inside the Mall of Asia Arena, giving him a feeling of comfort for his next bout.

While each and every chance to wear four-ounce gloves helped create the person that prepares to stand against Xie, the opportunity to face someone like Johnson helped him grow like no other.

“I learned a lot. I was against a top-caliber martial artist who was able to make me realize some of my weaknesses, which I continuously work on to improve. Not everyone can get a chance to compete against a prime DJ, but I was able to go toe-to-toe with him and push him for three rounds,” he stated.

“Expect a different Danny Kingad in my next fight.”