Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam can now consider himself a true World Champion.
Before his main-event bout at ONE: REIGN OF VALOR, the 28-year-old Swede said he would not consider himself a true World Champion until he successfully defended his ONE Welterweight World Title.
On Saturday, 8 March, he successfully defended his belt against Kazakhstan’s Georgiy “Knight” Kichigin at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.
Not only did he snap the challenger’s astonishing 14-bout win streak, but he made him quit on the stool following the end of the second round.
Superstar striker Zebaztian "The Bandit" Kadestam TKOs Georgiy Kichigin to retain his ONE Welterweight World Title!TV: Check local listings for global broadcast
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, March 8, 2019
The bout at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium was far from plain sailing for the Stockholm native, however.
He was forced onto the back foot from the opening bell, as Kichigin set about imposing his smothering wrestling game.
In the first 20 seconds of the contest, Kichigin landed a takedown. He looked to be in great form as he dominated the Swede on the mat for long spells.
When Kadestam did manage to scramble back to his feet, he scored with some powerful leg kicks and connected with a stiff left jab, which forced the challenger to reset his attack. However, it was clear “The Bandit” had a tough test on his hands with the Kazakh debutant.
Kichigin looked to repeat his wrestle-heavy approach early in the second frame.
He closed the distance to nullify Kadestam’s much-vaunted knockout power, while also sapping the Swede’s energy by wrestling him up against the cage.
It appeared to be a successful tactic, and seemingly worked well for most of the stanza.
As the pair clinched against the cage fence with the clock winding down, however, Kadestam freed up his left arm and threw a powerful elbow that connected flush with Kichigin’s temple.
The elbow strike rocked the challenger badly, and “The Bandit” followed up with several short elbows. Seconds later, the bell sounded to end round two and the athletes returned to their respective corners.
After assessing the situation and talking to Kichigin, referee Kemp Cheng waved off the contest between rounds and awarded Kadestam the TKO victory.
The Swede admitted his Kazakh rival was “one of the best wrestlers I’ve ever fought” in his post-bout interview with Mitch “The Dragon” Chilson, and while he confessed to having a difficult training camp, he did not let that prevent him from competing at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium.
He also took the opportunity to pay tribute to the most precious woman in his life — his mom.
“I’m not a quitter, and I want to thank my mother for always being there for me and my siblings during all the tough times in our life,” he said.
“It’s International Women’s Day, so thank you to all the strong women out there.”
With his victory in Yangon, Kadestam moved his professional mixed martial arts record to 12-4 and all four of his wins in The Home Of Martial Arts have ended via knockout.
Also, the Swede now owns the record for most knockouts in the welterweight division and can finally consider himself a true World Champion.