MANILA, Philippines -- Kazakhstan's Kairat Akhmetov and Filipino mixed martial arts (MMA) star Danny Kingad will finally face off at ONE: Big Bang, over a year since they were supposed to fight in the semifinals of the ONE Flyweight Grand Prix.
Kingad and Akhmetov were all set to face off in August 2019 at ONE: Dawn of Heroes, but Akhmetov suffered an injury that forced him to drop out of the flyweight grand prix. Reece McLaren took his place, and Kingad won that bout via unanimous decision to book his spot in the finals.
The Filipino gave a good account of himself in the Grand Prix finals against Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson before losing via unanimous decision.
Now fully healthy, Akhmetov is excited to take care of unfinished business against Kingad, whom he fully respects as an opponent.
"Danny is a very interesting fighter with a big heart, and a strong will to win. He is a very explosive, and well-rounded athlete," said Akhmetov.
"This bout is interesting to me because we were supposed to face each other in the Grand Prix. Now, we have a chance to finish our business. I have only a good impression of him. He is a really good and worthy opponent," he added.
Kingad brings a 14-2 record into the bout, with his only losses coming against Johnson in 2019 and Adriano Moraes all the way back in November 2017. Akhmetov, a former ONE flyweight world champion, has a 23-2 win-loss slate.
They are scheduled to face off in the undercard of ONE: Big Bang on December 4 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
After losing to Johnson, Kingad bounced back with a decision win over Wei Xie at ONE: Fight and Fury in January. Akhmetov is well aware of the Kingad's caliber, admitting that the Filipino "doesn't have many holes in his game."
"He is a complete fighter who can strike, wrestle, and grapple well. He always has good cardio too," Akhmetov said of Kingad. "But me and my coach have analyzed him a lot. Everyone has some weak spots, and I will work on exploiting him when we meet."
"I'm confident in all areas of my game," the Kazakh fighter also said. "I'm not just a wrestler."
He anticipates a thrilling fight against Kingad, especially as they are jockeying for position in the flyweight rankings. Kingad is currently ranked second, just behind Johnson, while Akhmetov is in third.
"We are ranked very high in this division, and this match is a can't-miss for all fans," said Akhmetov. "There's a lot on the line in this one."
"I will do everything in my power to get my hand raised on that day."
ONE: Big Bang is the first of ONE Championship's live event offerings in December. The main event features a showdown between ONE light heavyweight kickboxing world champion Roman Kryklia of the Ukraine and challenger Murat "The Butcher" Aygun of the Netherlands.