The beautiful city of Shanghai is ready for its first taste of world-class martial arts action, as ONE Championship holds its inaugural event in the bustling metropolis.
Each time our heroes take to the cage, the stakes are incredibly high. We take a step back to examine what victory would mean for them on 2 September at ONE CHAMPIONSHIP: SHANGHAI.
Undefeated at 16-0, 1 NC, Ben Askren is the reigning, defending ONE Welterweight World Champion. Whenever former US Olympian and collegiate wrestling star Ben Askren steps inside the cage, the whole world watches. With fans from all across the globe, ‘Funky’ is widely-considered one of the top martial artists in the world today, and the best wrestler ever to grace the cage.
Will he be able to put forward another spectacular performance on 2 September? We have grown accustomed to Askren stopping his foes as of late, finishing opponents in three of his last four bouts. This time, he could be faced with the best striker ever to stand across the cage from him – Swedish Muay Thai specialist Zebaztian Kadestam – in what promises be an action-packed classic between world-class grappler and elite striker.
The pressure is undoubtedly on Askren, as he puts everything on the line – his world title, undefeated record, and his status as the best welterweight in the world. Victory would cement his place as an all-time great, while a loss would bring an end to his unbeaten legacy.
A newcomer in the promotion, having made his debut just last May in Singapore with a shocking upset over Luis Santos, Swedish kickboxer Zebaztian Kadestam risked it all. He left his PXC welterweight title behind to pursue the biggest prize in martial arts, and against the legendary Ben Askren in Shanghai, Kadestam will soon find out if his gamble will pay off. The ONE Welterweight World Championship hangs in the balance.
Kadestam is a tough competitor, he proved that by surviving Santos’ best shots while so many others could not. It’s even more impressive given the fact that he took the challenge on short notice, and that he strategized his way to victory all along.
If Kadestam is able to somehow defeat Askren, it would certainly go down as an even bigger upset than his come-from-behind victory over Santos. However, it’s a lot easier said than done. Kadestam will have to bring his absolute best if he wants to claim the crown, but being the underdog has its benefits – he has little to lose, but absolutely everything to gain. It all comes down to 25 life-changing minutes.
The former ONE Featherweight World Champion is one of the toughest and most powerful warriors in the world. With solid credentials and victories over some of the biggest names in the division, Narantungalag Jadambaa rides into battle full of confidence. At 41 years of age however, Jadambaa’s window of opportunity is getting smaller by the day, even if he does not show it.
Jadambaa faces Japanese foe Tetsuya Yamada, in what should be a good test of the Mongolian’s grappling skills. Jadambaa had difficulty handling Marat Gafurov’s incredibly fluid jiu-jitsu, which is why he lost the title in the first place, and the subsequent rematch. Since then, Jadambaa should have already plugged the holes in his grappling game.
Will fans be able to see improvement in Jadambaa’s ground game? Yamada is the perfect opponent to see if the former champion has what it takes to make another run at the title, now currently held by Vietnamese-Australian Martin Nguyen. If Jadambaa can get past Yamada, another crack at ONE Championship gold may not be too far away.
The last time Tetsuya Yamada was seen in the ONE Championship cage, he pushed Eduard Folayang to the full length of a gruelling three-round bout, in what was one of the toughest tests in the Filipino’s career. Yamada showcased tremendous mat skills, proving himself to be both a world-class wrestler, along with being an exceptional jiu-jitsu specialist.
After spending some time away from the promotion, Yamada is back, and ready to claim his first ONE victory. It won’t be easy however, as his opponent is former ONE Featherweight World Champion Narantungalag Jadambaa. Jadambaa is well-rounded, possesses the skills necessary to hang with Yamada on the ground, and has thunderous knockout power in every strike.
Needless to say, a win over Jadambaa would bode well for Yamada moving forward. ONE Championship’s featherweight division is stacked, and runs deep with talent. There will be no better way to make his presence known than defeating a former world champion.
22-year-old Muay Thai sensation Amir Khan has spent extensive time working on his ground game, since nearly being finished with a Vaughn Donayre kimura last November. Khan said it was a wake up call for him to focus on his grappling, in order to turn himself into a more complete martial artist.
He didn’t need to use his grappling much in his last bout, however, as Khan needed less than two minutes to knock out Rajinder Singh Meena with a volley of punches and elbows. Working with his world-class teammates at Evolve MMA in Singapore, including BJJ black belts such as Bruno Pucci and Shinya Aoki, Khan’s improvement on the ground could be a sight to behold.
In Shanghai, Khan will get his chance to showcase those new skills against one of the Czech Republic’s finest warriors, Jaroslav Jartim. On a four-bout win streak, a win for the young Singaporean in Shanghai represents a chance to break into the lightweight division’s elite, and complete his transformation from prospect to contender.
Shanghai | 2 September | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | PPV: Official Livestream at oneppv.com