After missing out on claiming the belt in his first World Title tilt, Zebaztian Kadestam is looking to earn a second shot at ONE Championship gold.
Kadestam lost out to Ben Askren at ONE CHAMPIONSHIP: SHANGHAI via second-round TKO last September, but he has taken a philosophical view about that defeat.
He believes the experience was a huge benefit to his mixed martial arts career.
“This defeat was the best learning experience of my career, because during my whole camp I was learning so much to prepare for Ben’s wrestling. It meant I developed as a martial artist just through the process of doing my training camp,” he explains.
“In the bout, I could see what he was trying to do, and his answers to what I was trying to do. Every 10 seconds, there was something he was doing that I could learn from. He was one step ahead of me in the whole bout, and I learned so much from experiencing that.
“I think my wrestling game has improved and changed completely as a result of that bout, and I am seeing it in my training. I get to a position and think, ‘How did I get to this position?’ It is from my experience of competing against Ben.
“Obviously, I was angry and disappointed immediately after the loss, but it was a learning experience, and it has actually made me a lot better. Martial arts is a journey, so you have to appreciate the ups and downs.”
The Swede says he will take the lessons of that match-up into his next bout, against Malaysian hero Agilan “Alligator” Thani (9-1) in the main event of ONE: PURSUIT OF POWER in Kuala Lumpur.
It is a contest between two of ONE Championship’s very best welterweights, and Kadestam says he’s coming into the bout well-prepared for what is to come.
“I am always training hard for a 15 or 25-minute war, and sometimes when things click, it can be all over very quickly,” he says.
“I believe in hard work and preparing right, so when fight night comes, I will be ready. If he falls, he falls.”
The bout represents a stern test of Kadestam’s improved skillset. Thani has never lost in his hometown of Kuala Lumpur, but the Swede says his striking ability will give him the edge when they meet inside the cage.
“I think he is kind of the same [as Askren], but not on the same level,” Kadestam says.
“He is good, he is a grinder, and he is tough. He comes forward and tries to get his thing going, so I think it is going to be a tough, back-and-forth bout. He looks good, so I am looking forward to it.
“Anything can happen, but I feel my striking means I can finish it standing. He is tough, so it could go the distance, and I am fine with that, too. I believe I have developed as a martial artist and I believe in my skills against his.”
The contest itself is one that could position the winner for a shot at the ONE Welterweight World Title.
Kadestam has his eyes on the prize as he looks to put away Thani and put himself in pole position to challenge for the belt.
“I need to get a good win in this bout, then hopefully I will be right up there, and maybe compete for the belt next,” he says.
“I lost to Ben, but everybody lost to Ben, so that does not make me a bad fighter. In fact, it made me a better fighter. I am always trying to go out and put on a show. But above everything else, I need to win.”