Chinese featherweight star “Cannon” Ma Jia Wen faces a Muay Thai legend at ONE: SPIRIT OF A WARRIOR on Saturday, 29 June.
He knows a victory would not only see him claim a big-name scalp, it will also push him to the fore in the ONE Championship featherweight division.
The 21-year-old Chinese wrestler will take on multi-time Lumpinee Stadium Muay Thai World Champion Sagetdao “Deadly Star” Petpayathai at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.
The young gun is excited at the prospect of facing Muay Thai royalty in the biggest bout of his developing career.
“I hope to have an exciting performance,” says Ma.
“It will surely bring me more confidence if I win, and I will train and work even harder.
“I think it will send a message to those who underestimate me, and do not see me as their future opponent.”
Ma lost out to Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev back in May 2016, but has made key changes that have seen him find form inside the ONE Championship cage since.
He dropped from lightweight to featherweight and took a less gung-ho approach to his match-ups. His more patient approach paid dividends, as he racked up three successive stoppage wins.
Most recently, he submitted Pakistan’s Ahmed “The Wolverine” Mujtaba via rear naked choke in March. However, he found himself having to work his way back into the match after being caught by surprise in the opening moments.
“I did not think too much about strategy, because I knew my skills were better than Ahmed’s,” he says, looking back at his performance that night.
“I accepted that victory with a humble heart. I will keep training hard, and prepare for my next victory.”
That will take the biggest effort of his young mixed martial arts career, as he faces Sagetdao, a 31-year-old legend of the Muay Thai ring.
“Deadly Star” has made a seamless transition to the cage, translating his devastating striking to mixed martial arts as he claimed a hat-trick of first-round finishes in 2017 to earn ONE Championship’s Breakthrough Star of 2017 award.
Ma says he has great respect for Sagetdao’s striking, but says he plans on taking the Thai out of his comfort zone and forcing him to grapple.
“Sagetdao is a very experienced fighter,” Ma says.
“He has so much experience in Muay Thai, so his weakness might be that he is not used to the mixed martial arts environment yet – both physically and mentally.
“Since he was a Muay Thai fighter, his ground game might not be so skilled and adept, but that does not actually matter. The important thing is how to combine his movements and skills smoothly together.”
Ma’s own development as a mixed martial artist has seen him make huge improvements from bout to bout. Now he’ll need to produce the performance of his career to catapult himself into the limelight.
If he’s successful, a title shot might not be too far away.