Former ONE World Title challenger and second-ranked flyweight contender Danny “The King” Kingad of the Philippines will have his eyes glued to the television screen when ONE Championship returns next Friday night.
Former Kingad foe, Reece “Lightning” McLaren of Australia is set to do battle against Finland’s Aleksi “The Giant” Toivonen at ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES. The event is scheduled for Friday, 9 October, live from Singapore.
Similar to what the NBA has done in Orlando, FL for the 2020 NBA Playoffs, ONE Championship has put together a stringent set of protocols to ensure the health and safety of its athletes and staff in it’s own ‘Singapore bubble.’
This bout could ultimately shake up the rankings, and Kingad says he has a vested interest in what will transpire inside the ONE Circle.
“This will definitely be an exciting bout to watch. Both athletes are very good on the ground, and this may prove who has the better grappling game between the two. Who knows, maybe I will meet the winner down the line at some point. That’s why I’ll be watching this fight closely,” said Kingad.
Kingad faced McLaren in August of 2019, after the latter stepped in to replace the injured Kairat Akhmetov in the semifinal round of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix. “The King” eked out a close, split decision victory over the Australian, earning his spot across Demetrious Johnson in the finals. He eventually succumbed to Johnson by unanimous decision in a competitive contest.
Kingad recalls his experience fighting McLaren, and immediately knew just how much of a stud “Lightning” was on the ground.
“Back when I faced Reece, I knew instantly his skill on the ground. He is such a difficult matchup for anyone. I had to focus on my submission defense against a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt. It was dangerous at every moment,” said Kingad.
“Reece is a very smart fighter. He knows how to take you down and submit you. His striking is somewhat of a weakness, but you can’t underestimate anybody in this game. Reece’s ground game is so good, his lack of striking hardly matters. Once he gets you down, he will work every second to finish.”
The fierce Team Lakay exponent is considered one of the best flyweights in the world, right behind reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes and 12-time former UFC flyweight champion Johnson.
Although Kingad has yet to face Toivonen, the Team Lakay stalwart believes he’s an interesting matchup for McLaren, and that this should be a closely contested bout.
If Toivonen can defeat McLaren, he could take the Australian’s spot on the official rankings at number five. On the other hand, a victory for McLaren could solidify his position, or move him further up the ladder.
“From what I can tell, Aleksi is also a great grappler. But training with the world champions at Evolve MMA, many of whom are boxing and Muay Thai world champions, Aleksi should have a better standup game,” said Kingad.
“This is going to be a close one. A lot is riding on this matchup. I can’t say for sure who’s going to win this one because it’s so close. But I’m leaning towards this fight going the distance. It’s just two skilled guys playing a game of high-level chess inside the Circle. It should be fun to watch.”