Kadestam won the ONE Welterweight World Title in November with a stunning knockout of the previously-unbeaten Tyler McGuire, but now there is a new challenger eager to take up the mantle at ONE: REIGN OF VALOR in Yangon, Myanmar.
Kazakhstan’s Kichigin will enter The Home Of Martial Arts on a remarkable 13-bout win streak. His name may not be well-known outside of his home nation and Russia, but “The Bandit” is making no mistake – he is a dangerous opponent.
“I was a little bit surprised when he was the name given to me, but that’s also how I got into ONE – I got a high profile bout right away,” admits the Swede.
“This guy is good – he has been doing well outside of ONE.”
The 30-year-old “Knight” is a new puzzle to solve, and he comes in with some elite grappling skills, but it is nothing that will faze the unflappable Pancrase Gym representative.
“I’ve faced the highest levels on the ground already,” he says.
“But in mixed martial arts, if you get 16 submission victories, you’re definitely good on the ground, so I can not sleep on him.”
Kadestam has back-to-back victories over grappling specialists in McGuire and Thani, so the WBC Muay Thai World Champion has already been training to counter to that kind of offense.
In both of those contests he has shown marked improvements, and that is his focus again when he stands across the cage from the Kazakh.
“You can see in the last fight, my [offense in the] clinch is starting to be a little bit more effective, and I’m starting to defend a little bit more,” Kadestam offers.
“Hopefully, we will see one more step this time, to show what else I can do.
“We’re on the right path, and I feel like it’s not going to take long for me to level up on the ground and in the wrestling, so I am on the same level.”
Kadestam’s plan is clear. His 82 percent knockout ratio is confirmation that, given the smallest of windows, he can end a bout in an instant.
All three of his ONE Championship bouts so far have proved he is still dangerous – perhaps even more so – in the closing stages of a contest.
Kichigin’s stoppage rate is even higher. His stands at 90 percent, with 16 of his 18 wins inside the distance via submission.
However, those impressive statistics will not cause the current World Champion too much concern. He prepares for every opponent with the same diligence, and he is confident he can find a path to victory with his team.
“I looked him up right away as I like to have a face and a body type for when I visualize the fight,” he reveals.
“But the game plan is up to my coach, Omar [Bouiche]. He is the one analyzing everything to the smallest detail. I will just go in there, and if I’m doing something wrong, he will tell me.
“I’m not really worried about the ground or standing. I just need to bring my A-game. I can’t make any mistakes – not standing, not in the clinch, not on the ground.”
For the Stockholm native, defending his World Title would be a huge moment in his mixed martial arts career.
Kadestam has dedicated his life to reaching the top of the pile in his division, and he is not ready to give up his number one spot after just one bout.
“Kichigin is dangerous. One punch or one mistake and things can change quickly in mixed martial arts, but this whole year is going to be full of tough competition,” he states.
“I have this title, and I want to keep it forever.”