It took Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam 24 minutes and 32 seconds, but he finally found the knockout he was looking for.
With moments to go, he lunged at his American opponent and caught him with a right hand. The undefeated athlete fell, and a follow-up knee on the ground finished the job – Kadestam was the new ONE Welterweight World Champion.
Zebaztian "The Bandit" Kadestam & Tyler McGuire went ALL OUT for the right to hold ONE welterweight gold!Download the ONE Super App now http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp
Posted by ONE Championship on Sunday, November 18, 2018
“Winning the belt is kind of surreal, but it was a good feeling and a good reward for 10 years of hard work,” he says.
“The Bandit” is an all-action warrior who always wants to put on a show. That is why he admits he may have had some trouble putting on the kind of performance he wanted in the first few rounds of this main event match.
McGuire wanted to take the bout to the mat, and frustrated Kadestam, who could not find a rhythm and unleash his combinations.
That made him tighten up, and push too hard for a decisive blow.
As the encounter reached the end of the third round, a change in strategy was in order, and, as he explains, that is when things started to improve.
“I think the knockout – we were looking for it at the beginning of the fight, and at the end of the third round I talked to my corner, and we said, ‘Okay, we go for points. Let’s win on a decision.’” Kadestam explains
“It was hard to find him. I didn’t want to overcommit and do something stupid, but then when I started looking for points, I found him.
“My coach knew. He was looking at it and saw I was looking for it too much. My plan was to catch him with the left hook, so every time I threw it I really committed, but I couldn’t catch him.
“You can see in the fourth round. When I came out, I was so much looser. I was faking and level-changing – I was fighting in a whole different way.
“I think I became loose and started to find all levels, I started to play around a bit more. Then I started to try and catch him on the other side, and that’s where I got him.”
The process of dialing things back in the cage was a foreign experience for Kadestam.
Normally, he is relentless and pushes hard for a win – just like in his previous bout against Agilan “Alligator” Thani.
He admits it was strange to commit to a game plan that was slightly more conservative – he even tried to slip back into his normal way of doing things – but he soon found the best approach.
“I won one decision in my whole career. This was the first time I told myself and my coaches I would go for a decision, but that wasn’t the plan in the beginning. I’m that kind of guy – I’m trying to finish.
“It was weird, but I think I kind of just said it.
“My coaches were screaming at me every time I put my hands down, I was playing around, or I overcommitted. They were screaming at me, ‘Keep it together, keep to the game plan – discipline!’
“I was getting tired of hearing it, but it was good because they kept me in line and made me able to win that fight.”
It was another dramatic end to a contest in ONE Championship for Kadestam, who has now claimed each of his victories in The Home Of Martial Arts via KO in the final round.
This time, it earned him the ultimate prize. However, the belt went straight over the shoulder of Omar Bouiche, his head coach, in tribute to the transformative effect he has had on the Swede’s career.
“The Bandit” is also quick to point out the strap also belongs to his mentor, Ole Laursen. Without him, he says, none of his achievements would have been possible.
While he was in the cage, he also apologized to fans for not putting on a show. That came as a surprise to many who saw a technical, tactical, high-level mixed martial arts battle that ended with an incredible stoppage.
However, after time to reflect, the Swede has changed his tune and believes he gave the fans in Jakarta a good show – although if he gets his way, he will go toe-to-toe next time out.
“For sure, it’s always good to finish, and I think it was a good fight. I watched it a couple of times, and I like it. It was back and forth,” he says.
“The fourth and the fifth [round], we went at it more than in the beginning, so I think the whole fight was a good fight.
“But, I would like someone to stand in front of me, and we can bang it out. That would be nice.”