Zebaztian Kadestam (R) battles Georgiy Kichigin (ONE Championship)

ONE Fight Night 10’s Zebaztian Kadestam: ‘It’s Kill or Be Killed’

A little bit of trouble can go a long way. While that may not necessarily be the exact saying, for some it certainly rings true. There are folks in this world who get in just a little bit of trouble and their lives are negatively changed forever. But there are others who needed that trouble, that adversity, to improve their lives in the long run.

When former ONE Championship welterweight champion Zebaztian Kadestam was growing up in Sweden, he was not always the most well-behaved child. Around 12 or 13 years old, he started to dabble in martial arts. It was also around that same time that he had a few run-ins with Johnny Law.

“I started training when I was a teenager,” Kadestam told Combat Press. “I started training Muay Thai, but then I went on the wild side a little bit. I got locked up a few times. At one of the youth institutions, they introduced me to training, like for real – six days a week. They had me doing Brazilian jiu-jitsu and some Muay Thai. And, then I started to learn MMA, and I wanted to pursue that little bit. When I got out of that place, I went to Thailand, and I fell in love with the sport. I moved to Thailand later on.”


Kadestam was sent to an institution around 13 years old, and it wasn’t until 19 that he finally got out. It’s not like he came from a bad family or anything either. He has a good relationship with his parents, and he also has a younger brother and younger sister. After he got out, he went to Thailand for a few months and enjoyed his time there. So much so, that he went back shortly after returning home, and he ended up spending around six years there and in the Philippines, training out of Legacy Gym.

The Swede made his pro MMA debut in 2011 at only 21 years old. About five and a half years later, he was 8-3 as a pro with most of his fights ending by stoppage. Needless to say, he brings the fire, win or lose, and this piqued the interest of ONE Championship. He was signed in May 2017, won his promotional debut, and in Sep. 2017, he challenged reigning champ Ben Askren for the ONE welterweight title. While Kadestam did not pick up the title in that bout, two fights later, he beat Tyler McGuire to win the belt that Askren had vacated.

Kadestam had one successful title defense before losing it to Kiamrian Abbasov in Oct. 2019. He had some time on the bench due to the COVID-19 pandemic, lost back-to-back fights in his return, and eventually got back in the win column with back-to-back, first-round finishes of Valmir da Silva and Iuri Lapicus in 2022. His career has been a wild ride, and he doesn’t regret any of it.

“It’s been a lot of ups and downs,” said Kadestam. “I take the fights they give me. If you’re going to offer me a fight, I’m going to take it. So, we’ve had some ups and some downs.

“I’ve enjoyed the journey. I’ve had tough fights and big fights, and I like it. I like the ruleset. I like crowds. I’ve been able to go to different countries. I’ve had a good time, for sure.”

ONE Championship has embraced one of their top Swedish fighters. He has had a lot of tough fights under the ONE banner, and all but two of them have ended in a stoppage. So, when the promotion came with his latest opportunity, it was an easy one to accept.

On Friday, May 5, ONE will hold one of their most important events in history. ONE Fight Night 10 will serve as their North American debut when they bring a star-studded lineup to the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colo. In a feature bout on the main card, Kadestam will be facing the highly touted Croatian, and native of Bosnia, Roberto Soldić.

“This is my first time fighting in the U.S,” said Kadestam. “I’ve fought in Guam, but that’s not technically in the U.S. This will be my first time in the U.S.

“I called out Roberto after my last fight. I wanted it to happen a little bit sooner. It’s going to be a huge event for ONE, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”

Soldić is a big test for Kadestam and vice versa. The Croatian fighter is 20-3 as a pro, and he is also a former two-division KSW champion. Soldić had his promotional debut, which ended in a no contest after he suffered an accidental knee to the groin while wearing a foam cup. Most of his fights have also ended in stoppage, so the match-up is one for the ages.

“I’m excited,” said Kadestam. “He’s a great fighter. He brings the fight. He comes to bang. I’m excited to see who is the last man standing. I can hang with the best in the world. It’s kill or be killed.

“I’m coming. I’m going to try to take his head off. I hope he tries to take my head off. This is going to be a banger of a fight.”

While he is very much the ONE veteran in the upcoming affair, Kadestam is still young at only 32 years old. He has every intention to finish the fight and get back in position to make a run at the welterweight title. While he was a bit of a troublemaker in his teenage years, he has developed into one of the best fighters in the world, and fans will not want to miss his battle with Soldić on Friday night.

ONE Fight Night 10 airs live on Prime Video at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Friday, May 5, from the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colo. The event is free for all Amazon Prime subscribers based in the U.S. and Canada.