Prior to ONE: SPIRIT OF A WARRIOR, no athlete had stepped into the ONE Championship cage with Sagetdao “Deadly Star” Petpayathai and made it to the second round.

That all changed as Chinese wrestler “Cannon” Ma Jia Wen produced a performance of rare maturity for a martial artist of such a young age as he stood toe-to-toe with the Muay Thai legend.

The 21-year-old took the multiple-time Lumpinee and Rajadamnern Stadium World Champion the distance in a thrilling back-and-forth featherweight encounter at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.

The pair went all the way to the final bell. After a hugely entertaining, back-and-forth affair, and careful deliberation from the officials, 31-year-old Sagetdao’s hand was raised. 

The bout at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar was expected to showcase a contrast in styles, with Ma’s wrestling going against Sagetdao’s elite Muay Thai striking.

However, in a surprising turn of events, the 21-year-old from Tianjin opted to stand and trade with “Deadly Star” and more than held his own.

Despite conceding 10 years in age and a near lifetime in martial arts experience to Sagetdao, Ma went on the offensive from the start, walking through the Thai striker’s sniper-like offence and scoring with heavy strikes of his own.

As the first round came to a close, the Chinese wrestler went to his go-to technique and took Sagetdao to the canvas in emphatic fashion.

Buoyed by his successful opening round, “Cannon” set out to repeat the trick in the second frame, but despite landing another big takedown at the end of the round, the Chinese star’s willingness to stand and trade saw him get more frequently countered by the Thai. Sagetdao’s experience from 225 professional Muay Thai bouts began to show.

The pair stood toe-to-toe and traded huge shots early in the third round. When Ma missed with a high kick, Sagetdao punished him with a perfectly-timed high-kick counter. Remarkably, the Chinese contender’s impressive fitness and granite chin held up well as Petpayathai upped the aggression level in the final frame as the bout went all the way to the scorecards.

When the verdict was announced, it was Sagetdao who was declared the victor via a unanimous decision after the toughest bout of his mixed martial arts career. Ma was clearly disappointed with the verdict, which was indicative of the level of improvement shown by “Cannon” in this contest.

The victory meant “Deadly Star” advanced his undefeated MMA record to 4-0 and moved one step closer to title contention. In defeat, Ma fell to 5-3, but showed that he is sure to be a major factor at the sharp end of the ONE featherweight division in the months and years to come.