“The Bandit” is what the ONE welterweight division needs

zebaztian "the bandit" kadestam

“The Bandit” can steal the show in ONE’s welterweight division.

In a division where kingpin Ben Askren seems way ahead of his competition by leaps and bounds, Zebastian Kadestam brings something new to the cage.

Kadestam was a late addition to ONE Championship’s card last Friday night held in Singapore. He took on Luis Sapo, an MMA veteran who proved his mettle when he challenged Askren in Manila in 2014, effectively nullifying Askren’s offense only to get poked in the eye and end the fight in a No Contest.

Sapo has since been viewed as the man with the physicality, experience, judo base, and striking prowess to give Askren a legitimate run for his money. Considering Sapo’s strengths, taking him on with minimal preparation was a tall order for Kadestam, but he weathered the early storm and finished Sapo via second-round TKO.

After the fight, he posted this video thanking those who supported him and calling out for a title shot against Askren.

A showdown between him and the champ isn’t a bad idea, even Askren thinks so.

Askren is 16-0 as a pro, 4-0 in ONE, and is in short supply of a polarizing challenger; Kadestam may be the man for the job.

The Swede is currently the Pacific Xtreme Combat (PXC) welterweight champion. He’s trained and fought out of Legacy Gym Boracay and has built a solid following in the Philippines, which is undoubtedly a top market for ONE.

Stylistically, Kadestam vs. Askren would be a classic striker-vs.-grappler matchup. Given Askren’s Olympic wrestling background, it seems like a no-brainer that if this fight goes to the ground, then Kasdestam is in for some trouble. However, the Swede is constantly working on his Jiu-jitsu, and he showed against Sapo what he can do against a grappling-oriented opponent.

“The Bandit” is also outspoken enough to make the build up to this fight more interesting. He’s no trash-talk poet like Conor McGregor or Chael Sonnen, but he’s brash and unfiltered enough to escape the pocketed and safe pre-fight hype that’s typical in today’s Asian MMA scene.

Kadestam is a new face and a new challenger. He’s hungry for success, and he may be exactly what ONE needs to breathe new life into its top-heavy welterweight division.

Photo c/o ONE Championship

Gab Pangalangan

Gab Pangalangan is a former collegiate national Judo champ and the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of DojoDrifter.com. You can find his other works in the Philippines' leading magazines and websites.
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