Sagetdao “Deadly Star” Petpayathai may have only competed twice since joining ONE Championship earlier this year, but the 30-year-old Muay Thai legend has faced more than his fair share of battles — both inside and outside of the ring.
After all, he’s got 162 wins and several Muay Thai world championships to his name, and holds wins over some of the greatest to ever step into the ring.
However, as he prepares for his upcoming featherweight clash on 9 December against the Philippines’ Jimmy “The Silencer” Yabo at ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD from the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand, Petpayathai admits he is still in the process of adapting his incredible striking ability for the cage.
Even so, he has dealt with an extraordinary amount of adversity throughout his life, and has always come out on top. Born in poverty, a young Sagetdao was determined to improve life for his mother and two siblings, despite the limited opportunities for someone his age.
“As a child, Muay Thai 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.
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 her peace with the thought of her child competing in the ring, she began attending his matches – but not really.
“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.
Once, Sagetdao was even betrayed by someone in his camp, who had bet against him and drugged him ahead of a Muay Thai bout several years ago. Fortunately, Petpayathai was able to figure out what was happening before the situation got out of hand, and despite not feeling his best, stood victorious.
These are just some of the many obstacles the Muay Thai legend has taken in his stride on his way to the top. Everything Petpayathai battled through during his Muay Thai career has prepared him well for his ONE Championship career, where he is jumping into the deep end of a stacked featherweight division.
The moment he stepped inside the cage, the four-time Lumpinee World Champion had the spotlight on him, because he was already established as one of the most ferocious strikers to enter the cage. Thus far, he has lived up to that reputation.
In his first two bouts, Petpayathai earned a pair of masterful first-round knockouts, with neither opponent making it past the three-minute mark. Most recently, this past September, he used his trademark elbows to TKO Egypt’s Mahmoud Mohamed at ONE CHAMPIONSHIP: SHANGHAI.
“Deadly Star” credits his team at Singapore’s Evolve MMA for helping him make a successful transition from Muay Thai to the cage, and that is what he expects will help him for his upcoming match against Yabo, who will be his most experienced opponent since making his ONE debut this past March.
“The transition has been good,” Petpayathai says. “I have a lot to learn, but I have had a lot of help from the many world champions here at Evolve MMA. Everyone helps each other out, and teaches each other a lot. It is is very different from Muay Thai, with different aspects including the ground game, but I feel comfortable in there.”
As much as Petpayathai would love to add a third knockout to his resume with a win over Yabo at ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD, he is only willing to promise that he is going to show up and give his absolute best.
“I am comfortable in my abilities, and I know when I get into the cage, I will give my all,” he offers. “I am looking forward to the match and excited for the challenge.”
Petpayathai may still be learning, but it’s been impossible to tell with his spectacular performances to date. On 9 December, the Thai superstar will attempt to remain perfect inside the cage, and continue his quest to once again become a World Champion.