Team Lakay flyweight Danny “The King” Kingad may have come up short against Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson in their ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Final bout at ONE: Century Part I in Tokyo last October 13th, but the people around him aren’t looking at the loss as a reason to hang his head.
Quite the opposite, actually.
The 24-year old Kingad - who had 14 professional mixed martial arts bouts up to that point - shared the stage with Johnson, a former long-time UFC Flyweight World Champion and former world-ranked pound-for-pound king, and was able to hold his own and even give the American star some trouble.
Johnson himself admitted to having a tough time holding on to Kingad when on the ground.
In the end though, Johnson was simply a step or two ahead of Kingad and earned a unanimous decision victory to become the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Champion and earn the next shot at the ONE Flyweight World Championship.
For Kingad himself, the loss was somewhat an eye-opener as it exposed him to things that he had not been able to prepare for because he had not seen them before.
“Kailangan pang bumalik sa gym. May kulang pa na hindi natin alam,” Kingad said. “Yung experience [ni Johnson] talaga, tsaka yung tagal niya sa MMA, doon ako na-talo.”
“Madami, madami akong mga natutunan sa kanya, yung isa yung fake tapos takedown. Yung isa pa yung galaw ng galaw siya. Hindi man siya malakas, pero yung technical talaga niya yung mas madami sa kanya,” he added.
While Kingad was understandably disappointed at the result, his Team Lakay family would argue with the experience he was able to gain, the loss can be looked at as a win in the bigger scheme of things.
Kingad’s mentor and Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao looks at the Johnson fight as a win-win situation, explaining that being able to share the ring with one of the best in the world and being able to hold his own was already a win in itself for “The King.”
“Andaming mga nagsasabi na first round or second round, isusubmit siya pero maganda yung performance ni Danny,” Sangiao stated. “Siyempre sa atin, sana nanalo pero alam mo yun, win-win situation naman si Danny. Ngayon ko lang sasabihin, hindi naman natin sinasabi noon, pero sa ngayon sasabihin ko na win-win situation si Danny, wala siyang talo doon, kasi nakalaban mo yung pound-for-pound king sa world, tapos napaka-ganda pa ng performance niya.
“Hindi nga lang nanalo, pero nakita natin na nahirapan din si Demetrious. Nung nireview ko yung second round, mayroon yung na-kalog si Demetrious ng hook, hindi lang tumama yung follow-up, kasi lumagpas sa ulo, sayang,” Sangiai added.
The loss to Johnson was just the second in Kingad’s young career, with the first coming against reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes in a title opportunity back in 2017.
Sangiao believes that even after this loss, the future remains bright for one of his young stars.
“Nakikita ko na may future. Magiging champion din in the future, kung naka-focus sa kanyang career.”
For fellow Team Lakay young gun Lito Adiwang, the experience that Kingad was able to get in the Johnson fight was definitely invaluable, and it will be something that he can use as his career progresses.
“We proved that we’re one of the best, and nakipag-laro kami, nakita namin sa resulta na hindi lang kami pipitsugin,” Adiwang said proudly. “Nahirapan si DJ. We’re positive, we’re trying to transition it in a positive way, because DJ is old already, let’s face the the facts, he’s getting old already, and Danny is very young, he’s even younger than me. At that age, na-face na niya yung pound-for-pound best dati, so it’s his gain.”
“Kahit na natalo siya, naramdaman niya kung gaano ka-lakas, kung gaano ka-technical, so next time he enters the cage, it’s his gain, na andun na lahat, yung experience niya, nadagdagan pa,” Adiwang continued.
For Team Lakay OG Honorio Banario, he was happy to see his young brother carry himself like a champion inside the cage against one of the best in the world.
“Yung performance niya kanina, ayos. Sumabay siya sa pound-for-pound. Isipin mo yun, yung pound-for-pound na champion sa rankings sa world, sumabay ka,” Banario said. “Yung tinitignan mo na doon is hindi yung pagka-panalo doon, yung the way you performed in front of this champion. Na-carry naman niya yung sarili niya sa pagpunta sa cage, sa laro, hindi siya na-pressure.”
“Yun yung talagang na-gain ni Danny doon, kasi na-carry niya yung sarili niya sa champion, hindi siya napressure, nakalaro niya, nasabayan niya, tapos na-execute niya gameplan niya. Sa laro naman, dalawa lang yung resulta, either you win or matututo ka,” he added further.
Another Team Lakay senior in Kevin Belingon echoed Kingad sentiments, saying that it was Johnson’s experience that played a vital role in the fight.
“Sa tingin ko, yung yung experience lang yung nagpa-panalo kay Johnson doon eh. Talagang ginamit niya yung experience niya. Yung power naman, kaya ni Danny,”
“Talagang pinag-handaan ni Danny yun, pero yung experience talagang nagiging [advantage] ni Johnson doon. Yung mga takedown attempts naman, kaya ni Danny dinedepensahan and ineescape-an. Yung sa striking, hindi sumasabay, kasi alam ni DJ na yun yung weapon ni Danny, kaya pinipilit sa takedown tsaka sa ground yung laban,” Belingon explained further.
After stringing together six straight wins that ultimately led him to the finals of the Flyweight Grand Prix, Kingad heads back to the drawing board as he looks to make another run at ONE Championship gold.
Whatever ONE has in store for him next, the young star says he’s ready.
“Ready ako, kahit sino. Kahit nga sino, hindi ko inaatrasan. Si Mighty Mouse nga hindi ko inatrasan. Depende sa ONE kung ano yung gusto nila, pero sa akin, pag-ibigay nila, lahat, kahit sino, ite-take ko yan," Kingad expressed.