Saketdao Phetpayathai is set to make his pro MMA debut at ONE: Warrior Kingdom in Bangkok on Saturday, but the 30-year-old has plenty of fighting experience to fall back on. He’s won titles at both Lumpinee and Rajadamnern stadiums and is a veteran of around 250 Muay Thai matches.
Saketdao will be looking to follow in the footsteps of Evolve MMA teammate Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke who was the inaugural ONE Championship strawweight champion. The man from Maha Sarakham has a head start in that he’s five years younger than his training partner was when he made his debut.
Saketdao’s Muay Thai credentials are superior to those of any current MMA fighter. He won Lumpinee titles in three different divisions and was also a Rajadamnern champion who held WBC, WMC and WMF belts and won two separate tournaments with Max Muay Thai.
Three years ago he didn’t even know what MMA was, but Saketdao started training soon after moving to Singapore.
“I moved to Evolve MMA in 2015. In the same year I became curious, and wanted to learn (about MMA). So I started training regularly in other forms of MMA, besides Muay Thai. At first I was just testing it out, but I soon became more serious.”
During his Muay Thai career, Saketdao would typically compete around nine or ten times a year. However, that type of schedule becomes less sustainable once a fighter approaches the age of 30 and he was grateful to receive an offer to work as a full-time trainer.
“I was contacted by Saknarong Sityodtong, who asked if I would be interested in joining Evolve MMA as a Muay Thai instructor. The move has been wonderful. It’s given me a stable career, and I’m able to comfortably provide for my family and son. I’m so grateful for this opportunity.”
Saketdao’s last fight was in November of 2014, but having made a name for himself in the Bangkok stadiums, he is excited about the prospect of competing in Thailand’s capital again.
“I’m very excited about fighting in MMA for the first time, but also determined to fight well as I’m representing Thailand and Muay Thai. It’s special for me to be fighting in Bangkok, in front of so many local fans.”
Muay Thai fighters spend a lot of time clinching and the sport incorporates some trips and sweeps. Saketdao thinks some of this training translates into the MMA arena.
“Training in MMA is definitely challenging, but I enjoy it. Some of the Muay Thai clinching is a little similar to the ground game, but I am lucky because I have a lot of top fighters to teach me at Evolve MMA.”
Saketdao is scheduled to face Kelvin Ong at the Impact Arena on March 11. It’s only a few miles away from the stadiums where he made his name as a fighter, but will feel very different from any of those 250 or so Muay Thai matches.
With bright lights, loud music and appearances by two of Thailand’s biggest bands ONE: Warrior Kingdom show will be unlike anything Saketdao has experienced in his career to date. He will be hoping to put in a good enough performance to suggest he could become the second Thai fighter to win a title with the promotion.
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