Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao believes that Danny Kingad, the No. 2 contender in ONE Championship’s flyweight divsion, is just a step closer to a crack at the title shot.
Kingad is set to lock horns with No. 3 contender Kairat Ahkmetov of Kazakhstan at ONE: Big Bang at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Dec. 4.
“Napakahalaga ito para sa career ni Danny. Ito [ang] isang step para makabalik siya sa title fight, sa title shot,” Sangiao told Manila Bulletin. “Ito ‘yung kailangan bigyang tuon at i-consider na pinakamahalaga sa career niya [so far] para makabalik siya sa title [fight]. ‘Yun ‘yung way para makuha niya ‘yung belt, para maging world champion.”
The 25-year-old Kingad showed a promising performance during the ONE World Flyweight Grand Prix, taking down top-caliber flyweights after flyweights en route to the final round of the tournament.
After riding a six-win match streak though, Kingad lost to No. 1 contender and former UFC veteran Demetrious Johnson in the finals, ending his chance for the belt.
Now that another opportunity had shown up, Sangiao is confident that Kingad has the higher odds against Ahkmetov, a three-time National Greco-Roman Champion in Kazakhstan and a regional taekwondo champion.
“Sa ngayon, looing at his preparation niya, ang ganda [at] nakikita ko yung determination niya,” said the soft-spoken Team Lakay mentor. “Nakikita ko ‘yung disiplina sa training and lagi siya nandito. Kung titignan natin, ‘pag sinasabi ‘yung kulang sa kanya, talagang pene-perfect niya para maiyaos.”
Kingad (14-2) and Akhmetov (33-2) are coming off a winning momentum as the Kazakh fighter rode on a two-match win streak since September 2018 while the Igorot warrior defeated Chinese opponent Wei Xie last January in ONE: Fire & Fury at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Should Kingad emerge victorious, the Team Lakay fighter may get the nod of ONE Championship for a rematch with Johnson or a matchup with reigning world champion Adriano Moraes of Brazil.
“Knowing yung level ni Akhmetov, ‘di rin natin masasabi basta-basta.. Pero ang makikita natin dito ay napakagandang laban. Prepared natin ‘yung mga possible gameplan ni Akhmetov dito,” said Sangiao.