Sweden’s Zebaztian Kadestam: Ben Askren is my focus right now

Ben Askren, Zebaztian Kadestam

Ben Askren, Zebaztian Kadestam (ONE Championship)

Swedish MMA fighter Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam is set to make an attempt to steal the ONE Championship welterweight world champion title from Ben “Funky” Askren at “ONE Championship: Shanghai” on Sept. 2. They will headline the first ONE Championship event in the Chinese city.

“China is one of our biggest markets, and the focus has been to really bring the rich cultural history of martial arts in China to the forefront,” ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong said in a statement. “It is a delight to finally announce our inaugural event in the beautiful city of Shanghai.”

Kadestam is looking forward to becoming the first fighter to defeat Askren, who currently holds a clean record of 16 wins and 0 loss. In an interview, I asked Kadestam who he wanted to fight next if he beat Askren.

“Askren is my focus right now,” Kadestam told me. “Whatever comes next comes next.”

The “ONE Championship: Shanghai” announcement was made on Aug. 17, Thursday. I asked Kadestam if he thought he was given enough time to prepare for the fight against Askren.

“Yes I’m satisfied,” Kadestam said. “I told ONE right after my (debut) fight I’m ready to go again. I’m ready.”

On May 26, Kadestam made his ONE Championship debut at “ONE Championship: Dynasty of Heroes” at Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore. He defeated Luis “Sapo” Santos via knockout at 2:13 of Round 3.

In the main events of “ONE Championship: Dynasty of Heroes,” Askren and ONE Championship atomweight world champion Angela “Unstoppable” Lee successfully defended their respective titles and kept their undefeated records. Askren submitted Agilan “Alligator” Thani via arm-triangle choke in Round 1 while Lee submitted Istela Nunes via anaconda choke in Round 2.

At “ONE Championship: Dynasty of Heroes,” Askren called out Kadestam. It appears that ONE Championship did not need more fights from Kadestam before giving him a title shot.

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