American Top Team’s Adriano Moraes is a huge favourite to successfully defend his ONE Championship flyweight belt against Danny Kingad in Manila on Friday (November 10). The BJJ black belt is expected to submit his opponent quickly.
At just 8-0, the 22-year-old title challenger from the Philippines is a far less fearsome opponent than Kairat Akhmetov, who Moraes bested over 25 minutes to reclaim his belt in August, but the Brazilian isn’t taking him lightly.
“I’m the champion. I’m here to fight tough fighters, the best fighters in the world,” he said. “For me, it’s just one more step to go to my goals. I know I’m in the home town of my opponent, but I’ve been fighting in ONE Championship for five years and it’s part of the game. I’ve worked for this and this is just one more day of my work.”
Fighting away from home might be familiar, but ‘Mikinho’ has never stepped into a situation like this – as one of the biggest MMA crowds this year will all be behind the underdog. However, past experience and a respectful crowd mean the champion is still relaxed.
“Everybody knows that when you’re born in Brazil you need to get through many tough fighters in MMA,” Moraes said. “When I won the Shooto Brazil title I fought in the home town of my opponent in Manaus and it stayed in my mind. This helped me a lot to make me who I am. I’m very excited to fight in Manila and make history in the Mall of Asia Arena.
“I’m so glad to fight in Asia because the treatment from people here is different. When I arrived here last Sunday all the people in the Philippines cared about me and wished me good luck. There’s a good energy for me. I’m so grateful for this and humbled to do my best on Friday night because of this.”
Kingad, as quiet and reserved a fighter as you’re ever likely to meet, just seems delighted to be here. But even though he laughs nervously as he answers questions from the media, he hardly seems fazed by the task at hand.
“Filipinos are warrior people,” he explained. “In our province (Benguet), they are warriors and that’s why we want to be warriors in the cage. This is my first time in a title shot and I’m truly excited because I’m challenging the champion. There is a pressure, because sometimes we are nervous, but that’s normal for a fighter, so I’ll just put in my mind that I’ll win this fight. I also want to show a good fight to my fans, my family and friends.”