Askren Refuses to Underestimate Kadestam, Expects Tough Title Defense

Although he is universally recognized as one of the best cage competitors in the sport’s pound-for-pound rankings and one of the most dominant titleholders in ONE Championship history, Ben “Funky” Askren is not taking his next challenger for granted.
Askren will put his ONE Welterweight World Championship on the line against Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam of Sweden in the main event of ONE CHAMPIONSHIP: SHANGHAI, which takes place at the 15,000-capacity Shanghai Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai, China on 2 September.
A late withdrawal opened up an opportunity for Kadestam to jump to the upper echelon of ONE Championship’s welterweight division.
After Vuyisile Colossa was forced to withdraw from his bout, Kadestam agreed to replace him on two weeks notice and test his mettle with former title challenger Luis “Sapo” Santos on the undercard of ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES last May.
Kadestam made headlines when he defeated Santos as 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.
“The Bandit” 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 match at 2:18 of the third and final frame.
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.
According to Askren, Kadestam’s shocking conquest of Santos caught his attention as he watched the bout in his dressing room while warming up for his match against Agilan “The Alligator” Thani, whom he defeated by way of first-round submission on the same card.
“He is tough and he is durable, and that showed in the match with Santos. He took some hard shots, but stayed in there and kept competing. Then, he was able to land the really big knee in the third round, which ended up finishing the match,” he said of Kadestam’s win over Santos.
Unlike the Olympian’s previous opponents, Kadestam is armed with a dangerous striking game as he possesses a top-shelf Muay Thai skillset with knockout power.
Even though he is considered as one the best welterweights in the world, Askren refused to undermine the capabilities of Kadestam.
“I cannot get lackadaisical on him, and I cannot stop putting the pressure on because obviously, he is really tough. He is big, he is strong, and he hits hard with both hands and knees. He is tough, he is durable, and he is going to stay in the match. He is not going to do something stupid and give it up easy and early. He is going to stick around until I put him out,” he stated.
Askren is planning to deploy his trademark strategy of relentless world-class wrestling to take his Swedish foe down to the mat.
Once on the ground, Askren expects to advance towards a more dominant position in hopes of securing a match-ending submission or continuously dropping ground strikes until the referee stops the bout.
“It does not matter what my opponent’s strengths and weaknesses are because at the end of the day, I have got the trump card. He cannot stop my wrestling, then he is going to be on his back, and he is going to get beaten up,” he explained.
“I will come across the cage, I will grab you, I will put you on your back, and I will punch you until you ask the referee to stop me from doing so. The other option is that I am going to make you tap,” Askren added.
For the past eight years, dating back to his professional debut in February 2009, his unstoppable strategy has worked brilliantly for Askren, who does not see any reason to stray from his strength.
“I am really effective at what I do. I never made a secret of it, and I always played to my strengths, and that is something a lot of people get away from. They do not play to their strengths, and I always play to my strengths, and I have been very focused and determined on what I do. So far, it has worked out well,” he shared.

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The race to dominate the lucrative martial arts scene in China has heated up after ONE Championship announced its inaugural event in Shanghai, which is set to take place at the 14,000-capacity Shanghai Oriental Sports Center on 2 September.
Described as the showpiece of the booming economy of mainland China, the city will play host to ONE CHAMPIONSHIP: SHANGHAI, featuring the absolute best in world-class martial arts talent.
“There is always a tremendous atmosphere and excitement when ONE Championship visits China, and it is a delight to finally announce our maiden event in the beautiful city of Shanghai. We are coming at you live and ready to showcase the world’s most authentic display of martial arts,” ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong stated.
With the supreme proving ground of martial arts making its foray to Shanghai for the very first time, ONE Championship prepared a high-profile headliner as Ben “Funky” Askren of the United States will put his ONE Welterweight World Championship on the line against Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam of Sweden.
Ben Askren is universally recognized as one of the best welterweight today and one of the best fighters in the world pound-for-pound.
The 33-year-old native of Phoenix, Arizona holds an unblemished professional record of 16-0 with five submission wins and four knockout victories.
Askren is highly regarded for his outstanding wrestling background that earned him two NCAA Division I national championship trophies and the privilege to represent the United States at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Known by the moniker “Funky,” Askren made an impact in his first two assignments in ONE Championship, submitting Bakhtiyar Abbasov with an arm-triangle choke in his May 2014 promotional debut before thwarting Nobutatsu Suzuki in the first round to claim the organization’s coveted welterweight crown three months later.
Askren is coming off a spectacular first-round submission triumph over Malaysia’s Agilan “The Alligator” Thani this past May, keeping his immaculate standing intact and the ONE Welterweight World Championship belt around his waist.
However, a young lion aims to prove the old fighting adage of “Nobody makes it out of this game unscathed” by handing Askren his first-ever career defeat.
Kadestam holds an outstanding professional record of 9-3 and is a tremendous competitor with a wide array of striking and grappling technique. Moreover, seven of his nine career victories have come by way of knockout.
The 26-year-old ferocious striker from Stockholm, Sweden made a successful ONE Championship debut last May when he defeated Luis Santos, upsetting the top welterweight contender via a come-from-behind third-round knockout.
Kadestam’s resounding victory quickly earned him a title opportunity as he is now booked to face the toughest opponent of his prizefighting stint in Askren.
“We have an exhilarating main event prepared for our fans in Shanghai as Ben Askren makes another defense of his ONE Welterweight World Championship against Swedish standout Zebaztian Kadestam. The interesting clash of styles should provide fans a solid matchup,” Sityodtong said about the five-round welterweight championship clash.
Other competitors announced for ONE Championship’s maiden card in Shanghai include former ONE Featherweight World Champion Narantungalag Jadambaa, who takes on Japanese veteran Tatsuya Yamada.
Furthermore, 22-year-old Singaporean lightweight prospect Amir Khan shares the ONE Championship cage with Prague-based martial arts star Jaroslav Jartim of Czech Republic.
The card also sees the return of multiple-time Muay Thai champion Saketdao Pephayathai, who goes up against experienced Egyptian Mahmoud Mohamed.
Making their highly-anticipated ONE Championship debut, “The Sweeping Monk” Chen Geng Min will take on opponent Peng Xue Wen of Guangdong in a three-round strawweight contest.
Chinese bantamweight contender Miao Litao is set to make his ONE Championship debut against 23-year-old Inner Mongolia native Liu Deli, while Beijing-based former professional boxer Xu Chunyan faces Khun Khmer specialist Eh Ya Nut.
Meanwhile, Shanghai’s 30-year-old flyweight competitor Miao Jie will showcase her skills against Mona Samir of Egypt.
There will also be a three-round battle between two Shanghai-based competitors — Zhang Zehao, a Wushu-Sanda and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, and Li Chengchao, who has a boxing background.
Kicking off the action at ONE CHAMPIONSHIP: SHANGHAI are two promising young bantamweight prospects as Malaysian warrior Marc Marcellinus is set to return to the ONE Championship cage opposite Vietnam’s Tran Quang Loc.
With the sport growing at a considerable rate in China, multiple promotions are trying to break into the market to tap the Chinese market’s estimated potential earnings of up to US$724 billion by 2025.

ONE Championship made its first venture to China in 2014. Ever since its first trip into the country known as “The Red Dragon,” the organization has held seven blockbuster events in total with five taking place on the mainland.

Holding its eighth card in China on 2 September, Sityodtong guarantees that ONE Championship’s inaugural event in Shanghai will be a night to remember.
“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,” he assured.

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