Danny “The King” Kingad has a new opponent following Andrew Leone’s sudden pullout from the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix quarter-final bout against the Filipino phenom.
The first round of the much-awaited tournament is set to kick-off at ONE: A NEW ERA, which takes place at the iconic Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on 31 March.
Leone was forced to withdraw from the tourney due to an injury that he suffered in training, compelling the promotion’s matchmakers to find a short-notice replacement.
Former Pancrase Flyweight World Champion Senzo Ikeda accepted the offer to fill in for the injured Leone to face Kingad in the aforementioned quarter-final match.
Despite the late switch of opponents, the 23-year-old Baguio City native feels confident in his chances of walking out with the victory against a seasoned Japanese foe.
“I am ready for whoever ONE Championship puts in front of me,” Kingad stated.
“I have trained hard and prepared well for the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix, so I am confident that I can take on anyone in the tournament who stands in my way.”
Ikeda, 36, is riding high on a four-bout winning streak and has recently scored a sensational fifth-round technical knockout victory over the hard-hitting Yuya “Little Piranha” Wakamatsu in February 2018.
He is a well-rounded martial artist capable of ending a contest by submission as well, but Kingad stressed that he would be ready for anything the moment they face off in Tokyo.
“Senzo Ikeda is a talented competitor, and he has a lot of momentum behind him with four-straight wins, but I have faith in my capabilities and my skills,” said the prodigy from Team Lakay.
“I believe that I can put an end to that winning streak. My goal is to win this tournament. To do that, I will need to show my best in all of the matches, starting with this first one against Ikeda.”
Ikeda, for his part, acknowledged the risk in squaring off with Kingad, but he insisted that he is prepared to do whatever it takes to get his hand raised in front of his hometown crowd.
“Being on this massive card in my home country of Japan motivates me to perform to the best of my abilities and advance into the next stage of the tournament,” Ikeda declared.
“I have nothing but respect for Danny Kingad, but come event night, I will do everything that I can to get the victory.”
The winner of the upcoming bout will advance to the semi-finals and face the victor of the other quarter-final duel between Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov and Reece “Lightning” McLaren.