Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam (9-3) shocked the world in his promotional debut, knocking out a top contender just three and a half months ago. Now, he plans to do it once more, except this time, it will be against a titleholder who has never tasted defeat in his eight-year professional career.
The card, which takes place at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center, is the organization’s inaugural event in the metropolitan city, and Kadestam is determined to leave with a highlight reel finish and the championship title.
“I have seen the knockout many times. I see it coming,” the Stockholm, Sweden resident states. “It is going to be hard work, and it is going to take a lot to get it done, but it will happen. The hard work will pay off.”
Lately, all of his hard work has been coming to fruition. Kadestam, a former PXC Welterweight Champion, unexpectedly arrived in ONE Championship back in May. He replaced the injured Vuyisile Colossa on two weeks’ notice to clash with former title challenger Luis “Sapo” Santos at ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES.
Competing against Santos, a heavy-handed striker with black belts in judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, is a difficult undertaking for anyone, especially someone who had approximately just 14 days to prepare. But, “The Bandit” was up to the task.
Finally, on 26 May, he put that plan into action. “Sapo” controlled the opening two rounds with powerful kicks and smothering ground control. Santos, however, was tiring out quickly, and it was just as Kadestam expected. When the third stanza came, Kadestam took advantage of his exhausted foe. He stuffed the Brazilian’s takedown, rattled him with a knee to the chin, then followed up with some punches and a pair of knockout knees to seal the victory.
With that momentous knockout, his stock, as well as his confidence, soared.
“I believe in myself more, I have more confidence, and I feel like I am where I am supposed to be,” the Swede says. “I always knew I had potential, and now I am starting to show it.”
Later that night, he was backstage and witnessed Askren defeat Malaysia’s Agilan Thani. When the champ called out “the Swedish Man” following his win, Kadestam knew in his heart that he would be the next title challenger.
“The Bandit” followed his instincts, and immediately went back to work. He flew to Indonesia, where he had a month-long training camp at Bali MMA. While there, he participated in two to three training sessions a day, with the primary focus centered on his grappling. Also, he meditated, did some yoga, and relaxed on the beach.
Kadestam has since returned to Stockholm, and is concentrating solely on his upcoming Shanghai battle with Askren, who is a modern-day legend.
Ever since the former American Olympic wrestler made his professional debut in February 2009, he has decimated his opponents with relentless world-class grappling, masterful transitions, and a perfect blend of ground striking and submission wizardry.
The Swede respects the 33-year-old’s championship pedigree, but sees a glaring hole in his game.
“He (Askren) is so good at what he does. It seems like some people are choosing to wrestle with him, but he has been wrestling his whole life. There is no way I will ever be a better wrestler than him. Even if I trained in just wrestling for 10 years, I cannot beat him at wrestling, so I am not going to wrestle with him,” Kadestam explains.
“Martial arts is a big playing field. His weaknesses are his strengths, because he only relies on his wrestling and that one-two combination. I feel like he neglected his striking for too long, and that is where I am planning to take the advantage. I believe in my team, I am going to listen to my team, and we are going to get it done.”
Kadestam knows he is the underdog again in this title match, and he also knows people are already counting him out before the bell has even rung. But the last time he stepped inside the cage, he shocked the world, and grabbed everyone’s attention with a few knee strikes.
Although he has an even tougher challenge in the form of an undefeated champion and one-time Olympian, the Swede believes he will make headlines once again, and grab the ONE Welterweight World Championship in the process.
For “The Bandit,” he would not want it any other way.
“I enjoy training when I have big obstacles. I enjoy the fire inside me,” he explains. “I want a challenge. I want people to really think it is impossible for me to win, because that is when I am going to show them wrong.”
Shanghai | 2 September | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | PPV: Official Livestream at oneppv.com