Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam (10-4) has a chance to bring his dream to life on Saturday, 17 November.
The Swedish striker is set to challenge America’s Tyler McGuire (11-0) for the vacant ONE Welterweight World Title in the main event of ONE: WARRIOR’S DREAM, which emanates from Stadium Istora in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Kadestam comes into the most important bout of his career riding a wave of confidence.
The 28-year-old Stockholm native last stepped into the cage at ONE: PURSUIT OF POWER in July, when he defeated Aglian “Alligator” Thani by knockout at the end of one of the most thrilling contests of the year.
What made the win even more remarkable is that “The Bandit” was entering the match-up in his opponent’s hometown of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on the back of a long layoff.
“I didn’t feel any ring rust or anything like that, but I was a little anxious about getting back in there because there was almost one year between bouts,” he reveals.
“I had a good time. I felt like the [Ben] Askren fight was my biggest fight – no fight can ever affect me as much as that fight did.
“I feel I got that out of my system, so when I went to fight Agilan in his hometown in the main event, I felt no pressure, and I just had a good time. I think it was kind of good, actually. Everything felt good.”
There was a lot to love about Kadestam’s performance.
He defended takedowns well, and when he let go with his strikes, they were phenomenal. It was no surprise the Malaysian wilted under the barrage of punches, kicks, knees, and elbows.
The Swede believes he could have performed even better, but he was happy with the way things went.
“I think there was a lot of things I have improved and that I still can improve, but I’m most pleased that I was able to just go for it,” he continues.
“I was able to be relaxed and not really care about anything. He got me down, and it didn’t bother me. I got into a nice rhythm.
“The Bandit” also admits he was not in the best shape of his career, but he expects to be faster and stronger for his World Title bout with McGuire, who defeated Luis “Sapo” Santos by decision on the same night as Kadestam’s triumph over Thani.
The American got the better of the Brazilian veteran with some flashy striking and dominant grappling to keep his undefeated record intact, but Kadestam is confident he can pass this test as well.
“I’ve been training hard, and I feel good, so I feel confident for this fight,” he says.
“[In his last bout] he looked good in the way he executed his game plan, but I think he’s going to use kind of the same style as all of my previous opponents. He’s going to grind, and try and take me down.
“I’ve been training for these kinds of guys for so long, so I’m starting to get the hang of it.
“He’s a strong guy with good cardio. I think the first couple of rounds is going to be tough, but I think I need to shut his game down, and then let ‘The Bandit’ come out and play – just be myself and have a good time in there.
“I don’t have a problem if things get tough. I’m used to it. I’ve never had an easy fight my whole career, so I just need to go in there and stop his game, then slowly take over. The more fun I can have, the better the night is going to be.”
This will not be Kadestam’s first rodeo in a World Title bout, so he is ready for the occasion.
The Swede admits he allowed the pressure to get to him in the past, but he promised that will not be the case this time. That means we should see the tenacious, hard-hitting finisher at his best.
“In my career, I’ve fought seven or eight main events on big shows, and five or six of them have been for titles, so I feel like I belong. People want to see a show, and they count on me bringing it,” he explains.
“I’ve had a couple of losses, and my dreams of becoming an undefeated World Champion have kind of gone out the window, so I want to be the best I can be. But most of all, I want to entertain.
“I want to win fights and be as entertaining as I can be. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to put on a show for everyone.”