There are few cage returns are more anticipated than Sagetdao “Deadly Star” Petpayathai’s. After a short break, the Muay Thai legend returns to action on Friday, 29 June at ONE: SPIRIT OF A WARRIOR.
His assignment in Yangon, Myanmar, is likely to be the toughest of his mixed martial arts career so far.
The 31-year-old multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion will face China’s “Cannon” Ma Jia Wen, who will test the Thai superstar’s martial arts skills like never before.
Sagetdao’s perfect 3-0 run was one of the most impressive debut years in mixed martial arts history.
First-round knockout victories over Kevin Ong, Mahmoud Mohamed, and Jimmy “The Silencer” Yabo earned him the honor of ONE’s Breakthrough Star Of 2017.
”2017 was a great year. I was able to make my debut in ONE Championship and was able to compete three times,” he says.
“It’s hard for me to pick my best performance last year. I’m thankful that I was able to finish all three of my fights early.
“Being named the Breakthrough Athlete of 2017 was just a bonus. I’m excited to get back into the cage and challenge myself again.”
More than 200 Muay Thai bouts mean Sagetdao was no stranger to high-level competition when he made his cage debut last February.
However, he had to adapt his skills to a completely new arena, and develop grappling skills from the ground up to prepare for the wrestling and jiu-jitsu of his new opponents.
However, whenever the opposition tried to grapple with “Deadly Star,” he was able to defend well and ensure he stayed on his feet – where he could unleash the incredible Muay Thai techniques that made him a legend.
“There’s a lot to adapt to, coming from Muay Thai to mixed martial arts,” he says. “I am happy with my performances so far, but I always want to get better. I am excited to show my skills again in this upcoming bout.
“There are always things to improve on in martial arts – you are never perfect. There are a few things I learned from my first three bouts that I will continue to work on.”
He has stepped up his defensive grappling work at Singapore’s Evolve MMA recently, as his next opponent poses a threat like he has never experienced before.
“I have been training with all the World Champions at Evolve MMA,” he explains.
“I’m excited to face a strong grappler. I’m looking forward to the challenge, and am eager to test my skills.
“Ma is a great opponent who is good all-around. However, I am confident going into this bout.”
China’s Ma has shown he is capable of finishing a contest with his powerful punches on the feet, but he has hinted his best chance of victory probably lies with his bread-and-butter ground techniques.
The 21-year-old is a National Freestyle Wrestling Silver Medalist, with the strength and athleticism to put most featherweights on their back.
The stakes of this bout match the challenge. If Sagetdao can pick up his fourth mixed martial arts win against a man who already has five victories in ONE, a World Title shot against Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen may not be too far away.
“A victory in this bout will be another step up in my career,” he says. “It will push me on to bigger and better things. I am very excited to step back into the cage in Yangon.”
Aside from Ma, the only other thing that could halt Sagetdao’s journey towards the ONE Featherweight World Title could be a step into ONE Super Series.
With his background, Sagetdao would be a perfect fit for such matches, but for now, the Thai superhero will continue with his current pursuits in the cage against Ma in Yangon on Friday, 29 June.
“I have enjoyed my mixed martial arts bouts so far, and am excited to continue this journey in my new sport,” he says.
“However, I am open to competing in ONE Super Series as well. I can definitely do both.”
Yangon | 29 June | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Facebook: Prelims LIVE | Twitter: Prelims + 2 Main-Card bouts LIVE | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onespirit18