The beautiful city of Shanghai is ready for its first taste of world-class martial arts action as ONE Championship holds its inaugural event in the bustling metropolis.
Described as the showpiece of the booming economy of mainland China, the city will play host to ONE CHAMPIONSHIP: SHANGHAI, which takes place at the 15,000-capacity Shanghai Oriental Sports Center on Saturday, 2 September.
With the supreme proving ground of martial arts making its foray to Shanghai for the very first time, ONE Championship prepared a high-profile headliner as Ben “Funky” Askren of the United States will put his ONE Welterweight World Championship on the line against Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam of Sweden.
Askren isn’t just the reigning ONE Welterweight World Champion, but he is also universally recognized as one of the best welterweights in the entire world.
Undefeated at 16-0, 1 No Contest, and at just 33 years of age, he does not appear to be slowing down one bit.
“He came out to Asia, and he said ‘I want to teach people what wrestling is about. I want to show the world what an undefeated world champion can do at the highest level,’” ONE Championship CEO International Victor Cui said of Askren.
Askren is highly regarded for his outstanding wrestling background that earned him two NCAA Division I national championship trophies and the privilege to represent the United States at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Growing up in the Midwestern United States, a region traditionally known as a hotbed for amateur wrestling, Askren was motivated by the spirit of competition and wanted to participate in a sport where he could be the master of his own fate.
Askren had long planned switch to mixed martial arts and conquer that sport once he hung up his wrestling boots.
Following his 2008 Olympic campaign, Askren made the transition and has flawlessly translated his impeccable grappling skills into his growing skillset.
In his eight-year run as a professional martial artist, Askren owns five submission victories and four knockout triumphs.
“He is one of the best martial artists ever to set foot in the cage. Nobody has been able to figure out the formula to stop him,” color commentator Mitch Chilson stated about Askren.
Askren is facing his toughest challenge since joining ONE Championship in 2013 as Kadestam gave up his Pacific Xtreme Combat welterweight belt to be part of the organization earlier this year, looking for his shot at superstardom.
Kadestam shocked the world when he upset the very dangerous Luis “Sapo” Santos last May, scoring a highlight-reel third-round knockout of the Brazilian.
The 26-year-old Swedish warrior certainly has his eyes set on beating Askren and claiming glory, and with the whole world watching, it becomes the perfect platform for him to achieve the pinnacle of his career.
“If Zebaztian pulls it off, it would be the biggest upset in ONE Championship history. If he beats Ben Askren, it’s a Rocky story come true,” play-by-play announcer Michael Schiavello expressed.
However, Askren has no intentions of giving up his gold-plated strap to Kadestam as they share the cage at ONE CHAMPIONSHIP: SHANGHAI on Saturday.
“He’s going to stick around until put him out,” the undefeated ONE Welterweight World Champion declared with confidence.