NOT even a sudden change in opponent in his upcoming fight can deter the drive of Filipino mixed martial arts fighter Danny “The King” Kingad to bounce back and redeem himself following a defeat in his previous outing in ONE Championship.
Part of the card for “ONE: Visions of Victory” happening tomorrow in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Team Lakay’s Kingad is to face Bulgarian Sotir Kickukov, a replacement opponent who took over for hometown bet Gianni Subba after the latter was elevated for the headlining fight against Australian Reece McLaren.
Mr. McLaren was supposed to face reigning ONE flyweight world champion Adriano Moraes for a title fight before the reigning champ pulled out because of injury.
The change in opponent meant that Mr. Kingad (5-1) had to recalibrate his preparation with two weeks to go, something he said he was able to do and that he is hoping it would bear his desired result come fight night.
“I am happy that he (Kickukov) stepped up to take this bout. My preparations for my return to action will not be futile,” said Mr. Kingad in the lead-up to Visions of Victory.
“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 added.
Mr. Kingad enters the fight off his first-round submission defeat (rear-naked choke) to Mr. Moraes in November last year here in Manila.
Instead of soaking in the feeling of dejection of coming up short in the title fight and absorbing his first defeat, Mr. Kingad said he viewed his first loss as something to learn from, using it as a big motivation for him to train hard and come back with fire in his eyes.
“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. I am still young, and there are a lot to learn in this sport. I believe great things are ahead of me,” he said.
Mr. Kingad went on to say that he recognizes that Mr. Kickukov (13-7) would not be an easy customer, especially since the Bulgarian, a former bantamweight titleholder in Max Fight, has lost five straight, four coming in ONE Championship.
“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 said.
“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,” Mr. Kingad added. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo