Ben Askren is confident of defending his ONE Championship welterweight title tomorrow (September 2) as he takes on Swedish underdog Zebaztian Kadestam in Shanghai, China.
The wrestling Olympian is undefeated in his MMA career at 16-0 with one no-contest and, apart from a couple of minutes of difficulty against Luis Santos (before the fight ended because of an eye poke) has never looked like losing in his ONE career thanks to his near-perfect takedowns and superior top control.
However, Kadestam showed he is capable of surviving extreme pressure and adversity after coming from behind to snatch a shocking and brutal KO of Santos in May, at the same event Askren last defended his title.
So is the American concerned at all that lighting might strike twice?
“I mean, in MMA, if you’re not concerned every single time, you’re kind of stupid, right? It only takes one kick, one knee, one punch or one chokehold to end it,” he told Fighters Only.
“You’ve got to be on guard at all times. Vigilant is a word I use a lot — really vigilant in your defence. No, I’m not worried, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to go out there and be careless.”
There is one thing he is certain of, though: a finish.
“That’s what I’m predicting, a submission or TKO.”
The challenger did go as far to predict his method of victory, but is expected to approach the fight with the same never-say-die attitude that brought him victory last time out.
“I always enjoy a good battle between two martial artists testing themselves,” he said. “Ben Askren is one of the best martial artists in the world, and this is the reason I chose to come to ONE Championship, for an opportunity to test myself against the absolute best.
“Martial arts is my life and I believe I am going to be a martial artist until the day I die. Nothing is going to take me away from this. I am coming into the cage with everything I have. You can expect the best version of Zebaztian Kadestam when I step onto that battlefield.”