Deividas “The Savage Sitsongpeenong” Danyla left his home country and his family to chase his dream and become a Muay Thai world champion.
On Saturday, 7 July he has the chance to take a giant stride towards that goal in ONE Championship as he takes on Saemapetch Fairtex at ONE: BATTLE FOR THE HEAVENS.
The Lithuanian, who owns a 46-10 record, will meet his opponent in a ONE Super Series Muay Thai bantamweight bout at the Guangzhou Tianhe Gymnasium in China.
Though his opponent has a 116-14-1 career slate, Danyla feels like his aggressive style will earn him a huge victory and a big new fanbase.
“I am non-stop from the first minute to the last minute. I know the Thais are all more experienced than me, but I can push a fast pace from the first second,” he says.
“I am always looking to win, but I really like to put on a good show so people remember my name. I want to show my full potential – not just a fast win where people might forget you.”
The 26-year-old from Kaunas – the second-largest city in Lithuania – began life with no connection to martial arts. In fact, he did not feel like he had much of a connection to anything.
However, his family was very supportive. They would encourage him to try everything until he finally found something to throw himself into.
“I started lots of sports – swimming, football, basketball, even some martial arts like karate, but nothing made me really want to continue,” he says.
“I did not find myself, so one of my father’s friends knew a trainer and asked me if I wanted to try Muay Thai out. After the first day of training, I stuck with it.
“The gym was where I found my home. I did not want to play outside with the other school kids. I had friends, but I liked my routine more. I was always in the gym and hanging out with the guys, and I made good friends there.”
The coaches and training partners at Titanas Gym became like a family for him, helping him to succeed in the early part of his career.
However, after many years with them, he was heartbroken when they did not support his decision to travel to Thailand to take a step up in his training.
In 2015, he went to “The Land Of Smiles” for the first time. He stayed there for five months, competed seven times, and earned the “Savage Sitsongpeenong” nickname from his trainers and teammates because of his impressive style.
On his return to Lithuania, he knew he wanted to go back, but his coaches were not receptive to the idea.
It was a difficult decision to break from the team he had been with for so long, but he has only got better since he travelled to Thailand again in 2017.
“My trainer asked why I wanted to do it and said I should stay in Lithuania, but I wanted more experience and to grow my name worldwide, and Thailand was the place to do it,” Danyla explains.
“I am not speaking about living here for my whole life, but it is really nice to change things, and these changes really showed that I was not in the right place back home.“
Danyla arrives in ONE after spending a considerable amount of time honing his skills under two-time Lumpinee Stadium World Champion Sayannoi at Sitsongpeenong Phuket Muay Thai camp.
It was a change he made, despite becoming IMC Muay Thai World Champion, a WKA and WKN European Champion, and a four-time Lithuanian national champion at Titanas Gym in Kaunas, Lithuania.
While he was proud of his accomplishments before he went to Asia, the move helped him to change his perspective, which would lead to greater things in his career.
“Yes, I was competing and winning, but now I understand that only tough opponents can build you up, by climbing the mountain the hard way,” he says.
“After I competed in Thailand, I started to realise all these titles are in the past. All I do is look to the future and build my name up. It is not how many titles I have, but facing the biggest names in the world.
“When I came here, I said I had this belt and that belt, but people said: ‘Who did you fight? Tell me the names.’ That is the real accomplishment, and that is what I can start to say now – that I have shared the ring with these masters who have 200 or more fights.”
Now, on the biggest stage in martial arts, he goes up against another elite Thai in Saemapetch. A win would certainly be an accomplishment that impresses the people in Thailand – and propels him towards a shot at a World Title against another master of the art.