TOKYO – Filipino mixed martial arts fighter Danny “The King” Kingad passed his first test in ONE Championship’s Flyweight Grand Prix, hacking out an impressive unanimous decision win over hometown bet Senzo Ikeda at “ONE: A New Era” at the Ryogoku Kokugikan here on Sunday.
Dominated for much of the full three rounds, Mr. Kingad of Team Lakay did not leave any doubt with his consistent activity in the cage, eventually getting the nod of all three judges when the battle smoke cleared to begin his ONE grand prix campaign on the right foot.
The contest got off to a slow start as both fighters gauged each other.
Mr. Kingad then connected a solid leg kick midway into the first round, sending Mr. Ikeda to the canvas.
But the Japanese would recover only to find Mr. Kingad on the attack with a flying knee and a takedown.
Mr. Ikeda managed to get on the back of the Filipino after, going for a rear-naked choke.
It was to no avail, however, as Mr. Kingad extricated himself and the two slugged it out for the rest of the round.
The Team Lakay stalwart began the second round strong, connecting on solid strikes that rocked his opponent.
The Japanese regrouped and landed some counter, forcing Mr. Kingad to take him down to the mat.
For the remainder of the round Mr. Ikeda would hold his own to set up a tightly scored third and final round.
With the outcome of the contest still open, the two men angled for early control.
They had their moments but Mr. Kingad picked it up, connecting on a solid three-punch combination.
He then went for a takedown but gave some window of opportunity for Mr. Ikeda for another rear-naked choke.
Mr. Kingad survived it and the two fighters got back on their feet and went at it on stand-up.
It was a flurry of a finish for the two with Mr. Ikeda making a last-ditch effort to salvage the win, locking Mr. Kingad on a rear-naked choke that proved to be too late as the bell sounded.
Moments later as the two fighters stood side by side for the decision, it was Mr. KIngad’s hand that was raised as winner.
“I’m happy that we won. Looking forward to the next challenge in the grand prix,” said Mr. Kingad post-fight.
“I just stuck to my game plan which was to do strikes and takedowns. He was a tough opponent. But I’m happy with the win,” added Mr. Kingad, who also shared that in the last moments of the third round he felt in danger especially when Mr. Ikeda got hold of him in a choke.
The win improved Mr. Kingad to 10 wins and a loss and set him up for a semifinal encounter in the flyweight grand prix with Kazakhstan’s Kairat Akhmetov, who beat Australian Reece McLaren in an earlier match by way of unanimous decision as well.
ALVAREZ FALLS, JOHNSON WINS
Meanwhile, it was a mixed bag of results for MMA legends “The Underground King” Eddie Alvarez and Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson in their ONE Championship debuts.
Mr. Alvarez fell to Russian Timofey Nastyukhin by way of technical knockout in the first round of their lightweight grand prix quarterfinal match while Mr. Johnson was made to work but nonetheless won over Yuya Wakamatsu of Japan by second-round submission due to guillotine choke in their flyweight grand prix encounter.
Mr. Nastyukhin was in control right from the get-go, getting former Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight champion Alvarez on the defensive.
He would get Mr. Alvarez with a barrage of strikes that forced the American to the cage and drop, from which that latter could not recover from, forcing the referee to stop the fight at the 4:05 mark of the round.
Mr. Johnson, for his part, had a rousing ONE debut but not after being made to work by the younger Wakamatsu.
The Japanese made early in-roads against the former UFC flyweight champion Johnson.
But the American eventually got his footing and started humming, putting the pressure on his opponent with takedowns and grappling.
Mr. Johnson would fail to finish his opponent in the first round though.
In the second round Mr. Johnson continued to put on the pressure on Mr. Wakamatsu.
He got Mr. Wakamatsu on tight hold early and started to wear him down. Mr. Johnson ended up with a guillotine choke and went for the finish.
The win sets up Mr. Johnson for a semifinal match between the winner of the grand prix bracket between Tatsumitsu Wada of Japan and Ivanildo Delfino of Brazil.