Pongsiri Mitsatit determined to improve family's lives through MMA

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At just 20, the Team Quest Thailand product holds a spotless 7-0 record with six of those wins coming in the first round, and plans to extend his unbeaten streak on March 11, at ONE: Warrior Kingdom.

He will kick off the preliminary portion of the event when he squares off against Filipino wushu champion Rabin “The Rock” Catalan in front of his countrymen at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.

Mitsatit, a Northern Thailand Muay Thai champion who has been steadily improving his ground game, wants to set the pace for the night’s activities. He aims to make a statement no one will soon forget, and stop Catalan with a highlight-reel finish via strikes.

The Chiang Mai native started his martial arts journey at the age of 14, picking up Muay Thai because he was a smaller kid who was picked on and bullied by others. Soon, he excelled in the discipline, and wanted to take his game to the next level. But still looked upon as a child in his parents’ eyes, they did not allow him to compete professionally.

“My family did not allow me to fight in Muay Thai. I still fought in Muay Thai, but my family did not know,” he admits. “After 30 fights, my family found out, and they finally said it was okay.”

“The Smiling Assassin” experienced quite a bit of success in this regard, eventually winning the Loh Kroh Stadium Championship and becoming a Chiang Mai provincial champion.

Though he loved Muay Thai and was teaching the “art of eight limbs” at Team Quest Thailand, the allure of MMA was too strong as the sport exploded in popularity around Asia. He appreciated the techniques and sportsmanship he saw on display, and wanted to make the transition.

But again, his family was not initially comfortable with the idea. They felt the injury rate in MMA would be very high and worried about their young son.

“At first, my family did not allow me to do it,” he says. “But when I explained to my family that the referee would stop the fight before any serious injuries could happen, they gave in. They realized it was safer than Muay Thai.”

Mitsatit began training in all aspects of the MMA game in 2014 and needless to say, he had a seamless transition. By June, he had made his professional debut and recorded a first-round TKO. A month later, he fought again, and showed his diversity by winning via guillotine choke in the first round.

From there, he competed in local Thai promotion Full Metal Dojo, where he won his next four fights, three of which he finished by strikes in the first round.

The Smiling Assassin signed with ONE soon thereafter, and made his promotional debut at ONE: KINGDOM OF CHAMPIONS last May. Though he was incredibly nervous and afraid of losing, he dominated Myanmar strawweight Ye Thway Ne, ending the contest via TKO in just two-and-a-half minutes.

On Saturday Night, 11 March, he will return to the cage and face a stiffer test in Catalan (4-2). Like Mitsatit, the 30-year-old Filipino is a striking specialist who has a background in Muay Thai, but is also a national wushu champion in the Philippines.

Catalan is seeking his first win in ONE, having lost his promotional debut to ex-title challenger Joshua Pacio last April at ONE: GLOBAL RIVALS.

This time around, Mitsatit is not nervous, nor is he afraid. To him, it is business as usual. Although this match will be his first in ten months, he hopes to remain more active in 2017, and if possible, secure a title shot.

“I would like to fight two or three times this year and become the strawweight champion hopefully this year,” he states.

Whether that happens for sure or not remains to be seen. For now, “the Smiling Assassin” is focused on the task at hand, and he has all the motivation and support in the world from his now-number one fans.

“I fight for my family,” he says, proudly, “and to make sure their lives are better than ever.”

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Kelvin Ong's MMA Dream takes shape at ONE: Warrior Kingdom

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“MMA is my first sport,” the 29-year-old Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia native enthuses. Ong had long admired the martial arts from afar, but never actually trained until three years ago when he was introduced to ONE athlete AJ “Pyro” Lias Mansor’s gym, Borneo Tribal Squad.

“I have always loved martial arts — what boy doesn’t? I just never tried it when I was younger,” he says.“I only started training martial arts three years ago. I am very active and love the gym, so a friend suggested I try training at Borneo Tribal Squad MMA.

“I love the training, competitions, the team, and family atmosphere,” said Ong. “Coach AJ ‘Pyro’ really pushes us to challenge ourselves. He saw opportunities — first with amateur K1 and Muay Thai, and encouraged me to compete.”

That encouragement and early success at the amateur level soon led Pyro to direct his disciple towards professional MMA competition. The rookie dove right in for his first professional contest last July, where he finished Jesdan dela Pena in the second round via TKO due to strikes.

Although “Ice Man” calls the win satisfying, he says it spurred him to work even harder.

“Any win, just like any loss, makes me want to go straight back to training and learn more,” the young fighter explains. “When you compete, you really learn a lot about yourself, both your strengths and weaknesses. So, I take that back to training every time so I can grow and improve, which also helps the team grow and improve further, too.”

Ong is proud of his young, but already quite successful Borneo Tribal Squad MMA team, which includes training partners such as fellow ONE Championship athletes Ann Osman, Hisyam Samsudin, and Audreylaura Boniface, the latter of whom also makes her promotional debut at ONE: WARRIOR KINGDOM.

“We are a small but strong and diverse team,” Ong proudly declares. “We push each other to always improve. We are also lucky as Borneo Tribal Squad has some great visiting coaches and fighters.

We get the opportunity to train with people such as BJJ Master Carlson Gracie Jr., Clark Gracie, fellow ONE fighters Adam Kayoom and Mark Striegl, as well as Muay Thai champion Hakebar Hanfi.”

Now, Ong plans to build upon his momentum and the overwhelming positivity surrounding him when he squares off against Sagetdao Petpayathai at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.

Petpayathai will be making his MMA debut, and despite not having any cage experience, he is a combat sports veteran who will have the hometown crowd firmly behind him.

In fact, Petpayathai made a name for himself in Bangkok’s Muay Thai scene, where he became a four-time Lumpinee Stadium Champion, a Rajadamnern Stadium Champion, and a WBC Super Lightweight World Champion, amongst other such accolades. An expert in the striking department, the 30-year-old Thai has spent the past two years rounding out his game at Singapore-based Evolve MMA.

Though Ong holds his rival in high regards, he is not intimidated by Petpayathai’s skills. In fact, he welcomes it.

“I know he is a World Muay Thai World Champion who is training at Evolve, so I have my work cut out for me,” the Malaysian acknowledges. “It will be a challenging fight, but that is why I train — for the challenge!”

Similarly, Ong is not putting additional pressure on himself or his overall MMA career. Ong, who splits his time between training and co-running the family business with his mother in Kota Kinabalu’s LIDO market, is in the sport for the love of it, and growth as a martial artist.

“My goals are more personal,” he explains. “They are about challenging myself, pushing myself out of my comfort zone, being disciplined, always learning, and helping the team.

“I am not chasing fame. I love the journey of growing and developing. I want to train and compete — it’s as simple as that.”

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Petpayathai’s Martial Arts Journey Continues In The Cage

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Sagetdao Petpayathai is one of the most decorated Muay Thai champions in recent memory. The 30-year-old known as “Deadly Star” has won the prestigious Lumpinee Stadium championship belt an incredible four times, as well as the Rajadamnern and WBC titles, amongst others.

Now, he is following a path similar to his Evolve MMA teammate, former ONE Strawweight World Champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, and making a full-fledged transition from Muay Thai to mixed martial arts.

Sagetdao has been inspired by “the challenge,” as he puts it, and professed that he wanted to test his Muay Thai skills in a different arena.

The Thai legend’s first test happens on Saturday Night, 11 March. He will make his highly-anticipated MMA debut against unbeaten newcomer Kelvin “Ice Man” Ong at ONE: WARRIOR KINGDOM, which takes live at the Impact Arena in his old stomping grounds of Bangkok, Thailand.

The Malaysian Ong, who trains out of Borneo Tribunal Squad with the likes of A.J. “Pyro” Lias Mansor and Ann Osman, had his first and only career fight last July, prevailing by TKO.

“From what I have seen, he is a strong fighter. I look forward to meeting him in the cage, and I will be expecting a good challenge. I feel I have the edge because of my Muay Thai experience,” Sagetdao states. “I do not envision it ending in a certain way, because I know anything can happen in a fight. That said, I am confident of getting the victory.”

That confidence and burning desire to achieve victory has motivated him ever since he first laced up a pair of gloves. In fact, he used his love for Muay Thai as a way to escape poverty and provide his family with a better future.

Raised primarily by his grandmother in Maha Sarakham in Northeast Thailand, a young Sagetdao and his two siblings lived a simple country lifestyle. They went to school, played football, and survived on very little. Their parents worked in Bangkok at a textile factory, and would send money back home whenever they could.

By the time he was 7 years old, he had discovered Muay Thai on television, and fell in love with it. He often watched it with his uncle and soon enough, he wanted to give it a try.

“Muay Thai is a challenging sport that I enjoy. I like the fact that because it is an individual sport, the fighter controls and is responsible for his success and failure,” Sagetdao recalls.

“Training was hard. Getting to the gym was even more difficult. I remember riding on the back of a motorcycle for about eight kilometers, just so I could train. Still, it was fun. I liked that destiny was in my own hands — to do whatever it takes to achieve what you want.”

At first, Sagetdao had trouble maintaining his aggressive style beyond two rounds, and often felt depleted of his energy. But as he matured and fine-tuned his game, the man known as “Deadly Star” transformed into an unstoppable Muay Thai sensation and lived up to his billing.

Throughout the course of his Muay Thai career, he had over 200 fights, winning an impressive majority of them, and defeated luminaries such as Saenchai Sor Kingstar. He also claimed every major accolade in the Muay Thai world, some of them multiple times in different weight classes. More importantly, on top of it all, he was able to financially support his family.

“During my whole career, I only ever kept a small bit of my winnings for living costs — most of my winnings went to my family,” he reveals. “Being able to put my sister through university and have a brighter future is something I really am proud of.”

Sagetdao secured his future even more when he relocated to Singapore in 2014 to teach Muay Thai at the famed Evolve MMA. But while he was sharpening the skills of young competitors and educating a new generation on “the art of eight limbs,” he noticed the emergence of MMA, and he wanted to get in on the action.

“It has been a fun challenge, trying to get better every day,” he says. “It is also exciting learning a new skill set. Some Muay Thai clinch concepts translate a little to the ground game. I am lucky and thankful to train with so many great world champions at Evolve MMA.”

Sagetdao will have the opportunity to showcase that new skill set when he returns to Bangkok to face Ong on 11 March. Although this is a new path and a natural progression in his ever-evolving martial arts journey, he has cherished the ride, and is motivated to triumph in his new career.

“Martial arts has given me everything I have in life. I owe everything I have — all my success — to Muay Thai. It has helped me become more disciplined, and it has taught me the value of hard work,” he says.

“The need to escape poverty was the driving force, and to give my family a better future. Now, knowing that my future is all up to me, if I work hard, I can control my destiny.”

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