Sagetdao “Deadly Star” Petpayathai has made a flawless transition from the Muay Thai ring to the ONE Championship cage.
In just his first year of competition, the Singapore-based Thai masterfully utilized his world-class striking to decimate his opponents, helping him to rack up a trio of quick first-round stoppage victories.
Now, with a successful debut year in ONE Championship complete, the undefeated Muay Thai legend can spend 2018 building more momentum towards achieving his ultimate goal.
“As with most martial artists, the ultimate goal is to go for a championship belt and get a title,” the 30-year-old states. “It is no different for me.”
That may seem like a lofty goal to the uninitiated, but do not be fooled by the Thai’s impeccable 3-0 record. Although he is new to the cage, he is a legend in the ring. He has participated in more than 200 professional Muay Thai bouts, captured the discipline’s most coveted titles on multiple occasions, and is one of the most elite strikers in the world.
The story of “Deadly Star” begins in the Northeast Thailand province of Maha Sarakhan. At the tender age of 7, the young boy fell in love with Muay Thai after watching it on local television. He soon convinced his uncle to allow him to train, and the rest, they say, is history.
Despite the thrill of competition, there was something else that forced him to seek out an early professional career in the ring – he had to work to help his family. With employment prospects limited due to his age, a young Petpayathai was not willing to wait until he got older to help his mother and two siblings get out of poverty.
“As a child, it was the only way I could get some money,” he says. “It was also something I liked, and it was a fun challenge. I saw it as a way to help better my life and future. It also brought honor to me and my family.”
With the weight of the world on his little shoulders, Petpayathai continued his ascendance on the Muay Thai scene. Every match meant something, and winning brought him closer to the ultimate goal of a better life for his household.
Clearly, failure was far from an option, despite the immense difficulty and suffering he had to endure.
“Quitting did not cross my mind. As soon as I won and made money, the pleasure and fulfillment that it gave me trumped everything. That satisfaction of being able to play my part helped me stick with Muay Thai.”
Although he experienced a tremendous amount of success, “Deadly Star” encountered resistance from an unlikely source: his mother. The matriarch of the household initially disapproved of her son’s method of paying the bills. After all, no parent wants to see their child getting hurt.
In fact, Petpayathai estimates it took nearly 50 contests to change his mother’s mind. After making peace with the thought of her child competing in the ring, she began attending his matches. In a way.
“She would come to the matches, but would not actually watch,” he explains. “She would come to the stadium and stand outside, and ask people how the match went once it was over.” Evidently, she still could not bring herself to see her son get hit, but wanted to show her support anyway.
After seeing how his mother was going out of her way to support him, Petpayathai was nearly unstoppable. With each win, he was able to bring his family closer to the life he felt they deserved. And with more than 200 career victories to his credit, not only did his family escape poverty, but he earned enough to fund his sister’s college tuition.
“Bit by bit, I could see things getting better,” he says, proudly.
“During my whole career, I only ever kept a small bit of my winnings for living costs. Most of my winnings went to my family,” he continues. “Being able to put my sister through university and have a brighter future is something I really am proud of.”
Those victories also brought him to the pinnacle of Muay Thai. He claimed every major accolade possible, including four Lumpinee World Championships, the WBC Muay Thai World Championship and a Rajadamnern World Championship.
After accomplishing all he could in the ring, “Deadly Star” hung up his gloves, and moved to Singapore to join the famed Evolve MMA to teach. That is where he came to know of ONE Championship, and soon, his thirst for glory was renewed.
Following in the footsteps of fellow Muay Thai legend and former ONE Strawweight World Champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, he decided to embark on a new challenge — to become a world champion in a second field.
Petpayathai took the first step towards his new goal this past March. The featherweight martial artist made his cage debut opposite Malaysia’s Kelvin “Ice Man” Ong at ONE: WARRIOR KINGDOM. Competing in front of his countrymen in his home country of Thailand, he used his world-class striking to deliver a stirring first-round TKO.
The Thai hero followed that up with two more incredible performances. He utilized his famed punches and elbows to knock out Egypt’s Mahmoud Mohamed at ONE CHAMPIONSHIP: SHANGHAI in September, and closed out a banner 2017 with a perfectly-placed knee to Jimmy Yabo’s body at ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD earlier this month.
Now, with momentum on his side, Petpayathai enters the second year of his blossoming cage career with high hopes. Even though he is getting closer to accomplishing his newfound dream and ultimate goal, “Deadly Star” knows he would not be the man he is today if it were not for martial arts.
After all, it has truly shaped his spirit and his character.
“Martial arts has given me everything I have in life. I owe everything I have — all my success — to Muay Thai. It has helped me become more disciplined, and it has taught me the value of hard work,” he explains.
“The need to escape poverty was the driving force, and to give my family a better future. Now, knowing my future is all up to me, if I work hard, I can control my destiny.”