With a new king in town, ONE Championship’s welterweight division is more exciting than ever.
The newly-crowned ONE Welterweight World Champion Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam (11-4) has had a stellar year, and the 28-year-old now has the gold to go along with the blistering performances that have defined his 2018.
The Swedish athlete took aim at the vacant welterweight throne at ONE: WARRIOR’S DREAM on 17 November as he went up against previously-undefeated grappling expert Tyler McGuire (11-1) in the main event.
The five-round-bout showcased why the Pancrase Gym representative is a force to be reckoned with. “The Bandit” put on a dominant performance and stopped McGuire via knockout in the final minute, to write Swedish martial arts history and commence his reign.
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Posted by ONE Championship on Saturday, December 15, 2018
Ruling over a stacked division, the 28-year-old Swede will undoubtedly have to continue to put on the kind of showstopping performances that have seen him knock out three opponents since he joined the Home Of Martial Arts last year.
With a vast landscape of capable opponents and recent signings of martial arts superstars, Kadestam’s welterweight division is brimming with exciting talent, and many of these martial artists can make a case for a shot at the title.
One top-contender that ended the year on a high note was the powerful Kiamrian Abbasov (20-4). At 25 years of old, the Kyrgyzstan native is evolving by leaps and bounds, and is now riding a two-bout win streak after finishing Agilan Thani (9-3) in the first round at ONE: DESTINY OF CHAMPIONS on 7 December.
Such a dominant performance over an established opponent puts Abbasov right in the mix for title contention.
The same can said about another fellow first-round finisher – Luis “Sapo” Santos (65-11-1, 1NC).
The experienced Brazilian pushed “The Bandit” to the brink at ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES last May 2017, landing powerful shots and takedowns through the bout. But Kadestam rallied to score a shocking upset when he finished Santos via knees halfway through the final round.
Santos has recorded two wins in ONE since then – and was last seen when he finished Daichi Abe (6-3) with a powerful kick to the body – just 33 seconds into the first round.
A rematch between Kadestam and Santos would settle the score between the two tough welterweights.
The recent signings of Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama (14-6, 2NC) and “Super” Sage Northcutt (11-2) also means there will be many more possibilities in the weight class next year.
Akiyama is a mixed martial arts icon with a style that makes him a must-see attraction every time he competes. The Asian Games judo gold medalist compliments his world-class grappling with powerful striking, and he is relentless in his approach to contests.
American phenom Northcutt is undefeated in the last two years and has looked better than ever with improved grappling to compliment his prodigious stand-up skills.
The 22-year-old brings a three-bout winning streak with him to the world’s largest martial arts organization, and a couple more could see him rise to the top of the division.