Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam shocked the world with a come-from-behind victory over Luis “Sapo” Santos at ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES back in May. That punched his ticket to a title match against undefeated ONE Welterweight World Champion Ben “Funky” Askren.
Rarely had a promotional debut sent such shockwaves through a division, but could the 26-year-old Swede continue that against the unbeaten wrestler? Not on Saturday, 2 September.
He was never given an opening by the 33-year-old American wrestling legend at ONE CHAMPIONSHIP: SHANGHAI, as Askren dictated the pace from the opening bell. “Funky” then kept his patient but relentless attack up until the end of the tilt to retain his crown.
Every competitors claims to be the one to end Askren’s incredible winning streak, but Kadestam was yet another who clearly underestimated the former Olympic wrestler. It took mere seconds for the Swede to be in Askren’s grasp, and Kadestam did not escape it for a second.
In the first stanza, “Funky” added to Kadestam’s air miles with a huge double leg takedown, and then diligently worked from top position, riding every escape attempt effortlessly, and planting his opponent on his back time after time. From the mount, the grappler picked his shots with precision, as referee Yuji Shimada kept a close eye.
The Stockholm striker would not surrender, however. From every bad position, he tried to cover up and escape, but the resistance was gradually beaten out of him. It looked like he might not make it out of the first, but his amazing heart and grit saw him through.
As the second round started, it was Kadestam’s only opportunity to make something happen. He most certainly tried, but again, Askren seized on the opportunity to duck the jab-cross and shoot for a double leg takedown.
From there, it alternated from dominant position to dominant position, with punches, elbows, and even knees piling on the damage. “The Bandit” was almost done as Askren came close with a tight rear-naked choke, but once again he would not quit, and bravely fended it off where others would have wilted.
However, shortly after, Shimada had seen enough, as Askren continued to pound away. The referee stepped in to save Kadestam, who was almost too tough for his own good.
With another victory and another stoppage, Askren cements his place as one of the world’s most dominant champions. It seems almost impossible to stop the Olympian, even though his enemies know full well what his game plan is. He will be on the lookout for his next challenge, if there is someone willing to step up to the plate. In the meantime, his impeccable record improves to 17-0 (1 NC)
Meanwhile, Kadestam can take solace in the fact that he showed just how much of a warrior he is, but he got to show none of his skills against the best wrestler ever to step into the cage. It is clear how dangerous he can be, and he will hope to be able to show that when he returns to the ONE cage next time out. For now, his record stands still at 9-4.