While many cageside observers are counting out Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam in his ONE Welterweight World Championship clash against longtime division kingpin Ben “Funky” Askren, the Swedish standout revealed that his underdog role gives him the extra drive to have his hand raised in triumph.
Kadestam faces Askren in the main event of ONE CHAMPIONSHIP: SHANGHAI, which takes place at the 15,000-capacity Shanghai Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai, China on September 2.
Competing for the first time in a world title contest, the 26-year-old native of Stockholm, Sweden stressed that being an underdog in the five-round welterweight championship encounter with Askren heightens his hunger to walk away with the gold-plated strap around his waist.
“It’s good to be an underdog because it boosts my motivation to win. When you’re an underdog, others believe that you have a small chance to win. But in some instances, some competitors use it as an extra drive in their fights,” Kadestam said.
For the second-straight time under the ONE Championship banner, Kadestam will be sitting in the blue corner, where underdogs or challengers are designated in a match.
Although Kadestam was representing the blue corner, he won his last cage outing, making a successful promotional debut last May when he defeated top welterweight contender Luis “Sapo” Santos of Brazil by way of third-round knockout.
“Blue is a lucky color for me this year. I have no problem if I will be in the blue or red corner. What matters right now is that I’m vying for the world title, and I am going to give everything to capture the belt,” Kadestam stated.
Kadestam’s astounding victory over Santos swiftly earned him a world title opportunity as he is set to lock horns with the toughest opponent of his professional career in Askren.
Kadestam made headlines when he defeated Santos at ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES in Singapore nearly four months ago.
The incredible feat was especially impressive because the little-known Swede had been completely dominated in the opening two rounds of the contest before pulling off a miraculous knockout in the final stanza.
Kadestam turned the tide midway of the third round by sprawling a sluggish takedown attempt from the Brazilian, then reversed position, and hammered his opponent with strikes from side control.
A pair of hard knees put the finishing touches as the referee stepped in to call a halt to the contest at 2:18 of the third and final frame.
“I do not think I have ever fought like that before. I was waiting and waiting because I could feel his power, especially in the first two minutes. He had power in everything. He was fast in his hands and knees. My plan was to attack a lot more, but I could also see him gas early,” Kadestam shared.
Following his scintillating performance against Santos, Kadestam vows to shock the world once more as he shares the ONE Championship cage with Askren, who is universally recognized as one of the best welterweights in the world today with an immaculate record of 16-0.
“I am no pushover. I am not someone’s footstool. On September 2nd, I will once again shock the world. Ben Askren is only a man, and he is beatable. The belt will soon be mine,” he declared.
With less than two week to go before the biggest bout in his prizefighting stint, Kadestam did not mince words about his excitement as his dream to become a world champion is within his reach.
“The bigger the obstacle, the greater the glory. He is at the top. I want in. I am here to fulfill my destiny,” he concluded.