Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam (9-3) is preparing for the opportunity of a lifetime. The 26-year-old Swede will challenge former American Olympic wrestler and undefeated ONE Welterweight World Champion, Ben “Funky” Askren (16-0, 1 NC), for the prestigious title at ONE CHAMPIONSHIP: SHANGHAI on Saturday, 2 September.
For months, Kadestam has been diligently training for this match. In fact, he was training for this match even before the bout was formally offered and signed off on.
After a successful promotional debut this past May, which saw him knock out former title contender Luis “Sapo” Santos via knee strikes at ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES, “The Bandit” thought there was a possibility he could be next in line to challenge the welterweight champion.
Those suspicions were confirmed nearly fifteen minutes later. Following his first-round victory over Malaysia’s Agilan “Alligator” Thani, Askren announced in front of a packed Singapore Indoor Stadium that he was willing to battle “The Swedish Man” at a future event.
“When he started calling me out,” Kadestam begins, “in my mind, I knew that was the match that was going to happen. I had a feeling.”
Evidently, he did not waste any time. Right after the show, he flew from Singapore to Indonesia, where he did some early preparation for his future opponent at Bali MMA. He trained two to three times a day with the camp’s head coach Don-Carlo Clauss, as well as the Leone brothers and the rest of the gym’s competition team.
“I was there for a month,” he says. “I basically started my camp there. The plan was to work on my wrestling and ground game, and just enjoy life a little bit. I did some yoga, I did some meditation, and I went to the beach. The training was great, so I started picking up the pace over there and was working hard.”
It did not prove to be in vain, as Kadestam was ultimately offered the title match against Askren. His instincts was right the entire time. After a month in the Indonesian paradise, he returned home to Stockholm for an eight-week training camp at Pancrase Gym Sweden. That is where most of the hard work is happening.
“The Bandit” starts his day at 10 a.m. and spends the first hour on techniques specific to his clash against Askren. That is followed by either intense cardio, grappling, or sparring, with the latter consisting of 20 rounds.
Kadestam typically ends his day in the early afternoon with head coach Omar Bouiche, who will hold pads and work with him one-on-one. He also works with coach Majid Ahadpour strictly on his wrestling, and with Kevin Arroyo on sanda as well as strength and conditioning.
So far, the Swede believes everything is coming together perfectly.
“Right now, with every session, I am not only getting 1 per cent better, but I feel like I am getting 10 per cent better every day,” he explains. “Everything is just falling into place, and everything feels great. I feel better everywhere – in my striking, in my ground game, and in my wrestling. I just feel like this is the best camp I have ever had in my life, for sure, and we just keep climbing.”
“The Bandit” is scheduled to leave his native Stockholm for Shanghai a week prior to the championship tilt. With all the time and energy he has been dedicating to his craft in recent months, he believes he will go from the upset king to the welterweight king in a span of minutes.
After all, Kadestam has already seen the knockout in his mind. His instincts did not fail him three months ago and, next weekend, it could prove him right yet again.
Shanghai | 2 September | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | PPV: Official Livestream at oneppv.com