What’s most interesting in Chapter 997 is that we have what may be the first hint toward the true nature of Kaido’s power. Yamato says that Kaido is lifting the island using flame clouds – the same power which allows him as a dragon to fly.
Yamato talked about “Dragons’ like it was a race. I’ve been saying this for the past couple of years but this should be a dead giveaway that Kaido was always a Dragon to begin with. He never ate any kind of Mythical Zoan Dragon Devil Fruit because he was a dragon in the first place.
The only dragon devil fruit that Oda showed us is Vegapunk’s artificial devil fruit that Momonosuke ate in Punk Hazard which has the exact same dragon form Kaido has. Everytime Kaido appeared in the manga, it was never specifically stated that he was a mythical zoan user.
We know that Punk Hazard was originally a place for the World Government to experiment and torture pirates who were captured secretly.
We also know that when Kaido was first formally introduced, it was specifically stated that he was captured by his Enemies and the Navy 18 times.
Although it did not specifically mention what enemies, it mentioned that the World Government captured him at one point. Furthermore, we know that Vegapunk at one point was in Punk Hazard and created the artificial dragon fruit using lineage factor, which is another term for DNA.
Vegapunk could’ve extracted Kaido’s genetics which lead into the creation of that SMILE fruit that Momonosuke ate. Mark my words, in Chapter 1000, Oda will reveal that Kaido came from a race of Dragons and was never a human to begin with. That’s why he was always called “The Strongest Creature Alive”