Now, the 27-year-old will step inside it himself against multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion Sagetdao “Deadly Star” Petpayathai at the previously recorded ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES II this Friday, 16 October.
Zhang is well aware of the immense challenge awaiting him, but he’s exuding confidence ahead of the ONE Super Series Muay Thai featherweight showdown.
“I’ve watched him fight since I was 12 years old,” the Chinese star says of Sagetdao. “He has won many World Championships, but I am not afraid of him.
“I’ve been fighting since childhood, and I’ve developed a kind of fearlessness. When I was very young, I developed this excellent psychological quality.”
It’s certainly a quality Zhang will need against Sagetdao, who is one of the most calculated and decorated Muay Thai fighters in The Home Of Martial Arts.
The man from Maha Sarakham, Thailand, boasts an incredible professional record of 162-62-1 and is a former Rajadamnern Stadium and four-time Lumpinee Stadium World Champion.
Throughout the course of his career, the Thai defeated legendary fighters like Saenchai PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym, Liam “Hitman” Harrison, and even reigning ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao.
In 2014, “Deadly Star” retired from Muay Thai and moved to Singapore, where he’s been coaching the next generation of athletes at Evolve.
Then in March 2017, he decided to test himself in mixed martial arts. He earned three consecutive knockout victories during his stint, but now he’s ready for a return to Muay Thai competition against Zhang.
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While Sagetdao will be looking to regain his dominance in “the art of eight limbs,” Zhang believes he can defeat the modern-day legend if he sticks to his game plan.
“I have studied some of his fights together with my coach, and we worked out some tactics to fight him,” the Chinese hero says.
“We have to disrupt his rhythm by frequently attacking. If we do that, then our chances of beating him will be high.”
That aggressive strategy might be a roll of the dice against the grizzled veteran, but “Bamboo Sword” sees something in the Thai that he believes can be exploited.
“His weakness is that he likes to throw punches one at a time,” Zhang says. “Against Sagetdao, I will use my boxing combinations.”
In Friday’s matchup, the WPMF World Champion is not just eager to showcase his skills in the Circle. He’s also hungry to prove what combat sports athletes from his nation are capable of.
“First of all, when I face Sagetdao, I want to prove that I am strong. I want to prove the strength of Chinese fighters,” Zhang says.
“Sagetdao, I hope you prepared well and come with your best. Let us put on the most exciting fight.”
And if you ask “Bamboo Sword,” there’s only one way this exciting bout will end.
“I hope to KO him in the second round with my boxing.”