Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam made his dream come true in 2018, but that is just the start for him.
The new ONE Welterweight World Champion is just a month removed from his dramatic, fifth-round knockout of Tyler McGuire, but he is already looking ahead to his next challenge.
Who's next for the freshly-crowned welterweight king, Zebaztian "The Bandit" Kadestam?Download the ONE Super App now http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp
Posted by ONE Championship on Saturday, December 15, 2018
The Swede takes his status as top dog seriously, and he wants to defend his belt against the best opponents that are out there.
But as he explains, World Title defenses could be the tip of the iceberg for the 28-year-old.
ONE Championship: If you could call the shot, who would you like your first World Title defense to be against?
Zebaztian Kadestam: I know they’re coming after me now, but I’m also watching all these guys, and I see a lot of potential opponents, and I also see some new signings. I don’t mind if they sign someone and he gets the shot right away. Big names are nice.
It feels weird. I feel the target on my back, but I’m watching these guys too. My goal is to improve and keep this belt – whoever is in front of me next year and the year after that. I’m going to keep this belt.
I’m not really a name-caller, but these big signings are good for me also. Whoever wants it – I’m ready.
ONE: You have been to Singapore, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, and Jakarta Asia with ONE. Would you like to compete anywhere else?
ZK: I really enjoyed Singapore. I spent some time in Singapore before, so I have some friends there, and I had a nice time there after the fight – I stayed there for a few weeks. The stadium is cool, the fans are cool, and the show is big – I like the big shows. Kuala Lumpur was nice also.
I would like to be on a show in Bangkok because I spent so much time in Thailand, and I really enjoy Thailand. I would like Tokyo because I’ve never been and it’s been a dream since I started.
I would like to visit some new places also that I’ve never been to. That’s the cool thing about this. You get to go to different places, experience different cultures, you get to meet all these new people, and it’s an experience in itself. Every time you come and spend a week before the fight, it’s cool. I really enjoy this journey.
ONE: As a Muay Thai specialist, are you interested in competing in ONE Super Series?
ZK: I’m not sure. If I can fight two or three times every year in mixed martial arts and defend my title, absolutely.
That’s my main focus. I think next year is going to be a busy year, but let’s say after that, or if something big comes up in the Super Series – I would love to do kickboxing or Muay Thai.
I had a dream from the beginning. I wanted to be a world champion in boxing, Muay Thai and mixed martial arts. That was the big dream when I started because nobody has ever done it.
The possibility is here now, but my main focus is mixed martial arts. I had a few Muay Thai fights, but I’ve trained Muay Thai for almost 15 years, and I use Muay Thai all the time in mixed martial arts – that’s all I’m trying to do.
I would love to do Super Series too, but the target is on my back, so I have to stay focused. I wouldn’t say no to Muay Thai or kickboxing. I’ve never done kickboxing so that would be cool, also.
ONE: Now you are a World Champion is there anything outside the cage you want to achieve with your enhanced profile?
ZK: I think the next year, we have a kids’ program at Pancrase I’ve been running for the past three years, almost. I hope we can use this to blow it up and really get the kids to commit a little more.
Maybe I can use my fame to get them to come and train with ‘this guy.’ He made something of himself. I think the future is the kids and we need to put some work into them.
Other than that, everyone is happy here for us in Sweden, and we’re getting a lot more recognition now – my team and my coaches. They’re seeing we’re doing something good, so I think it’s going to become good for the whole gym and myself.
The thing I’ve been thinking about most is to how to get the kids coming. The kids’ program is good, but I think it could be great.
ONE: What do you want for Christmas?
ZK: I want a contract for Tokyo!
ONE: Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?
ZK: I need to stop finishing guys in the last round and start finishing them in the first!
I was always in a hurry before, and I would finish guys in the first round. Once we got out of the first round a few times, I was like, ‘Woah! Why is this guy still here?’
I don’t really mind, but I’m the champion, and I want to really cement that I’m here to stay and I’m putting in the work. I think next year we’re going 110 percent all year. We’re going to go all-out. I want to improve and reach my full potential.