PXC Welterweight Champion Zebastian Kadestam was in character during the press conference and the weigh-ins: he was in full Bandit mode, shades, bandana, and restless hands balling into fists every now and then.
On the other side of the table sat Glenn Sparv of AKA Thailand, who’s been around top MMA talent like AKA Owner Mike “Quick” Swick, Mark Hunt, and Soa Palelei. Glenn had no time for theatrics as he gave Kadestam a stone cold stare. He would be making his PXC debut in no less than a title match against Kadestam.
Both warriors are elite strikers: Kadestam is lethal with his leg kicks, looking to chop opponents down from the ground up. Sparv attacks from up top with brutal head kicks and combinations.
The main event, both fighters promised, would be decided with speed, power, and precision.
“Why change what works? My chin his proven, my kicks are proven. I’ll roll with them.”
Zeb oozed confidence as he talked about his game. He is undefeated in the PXC, and his first title defense of his PXC Welterweight belt ended in TKO against Han Seul Kim in the second round. Three-fifths of his fights ended in a knockout, and he has a victory via submission and decision.
Kadestam is almost synonymous with Nasty Leg Kicks. It cannot be stressed enough as the Legacy Gym fighter starts his offense with his kicks. “He’s never been a high kicker but I’m looking forward to seeing Zeb try to go for the body and head this time” says Uriah Van Den Bos, Sports5’s MMA analyst.
For this fight, Kadestam just wanted to be physically stronger – he wanted to dish more punishment, and be able to withstand punishment.
The champ’s submission game isn’t bad, either. Although it’s been a while since his submission victory in PXC 34, he says he can dig deep and bust out a move or two when there is an opening. “We have a game plan, you’ll see.”
GLENN THE GRINDER
“If anything, Sparv has a great ground game,” Van Den Bos says of AKA Thailand’s Glenn Sparv. He has strong takedown and ground and pound, and a quick ability to pass guard. “He probably has a better ground game than Zeb, He’s very flexible and his game on the mat is more well rounded.”
If the battle stays on top, Sparv can hold his own. “He can go high-low with his kicks. Both guys have bombs in their legs and if they fight with pride in their striking it’s going to be a kicking battle.”
Sparv, to his credit, spent the last couple of years trying to round out his game as he wants to be known as a complete fighter. “I have been living and breathing MMA. Striking is fun and good but I want to win in different ways. It’s a competitive sport you always need an edge.” In Sparv’s last few wins, he’s been displaying different abilities to win against opponents in their own game: he knocked out a Thai fighter, he submitted a Japanese fighter, and even knocked out a French fighter with brutal Muay Thai knees.
“The biggest question is improvement all-around,” stresses Van Den Bos. Sparv is a wildcard as he can explode for a takedown where Kadestam could be tested. But The Bandit always surprises. What if he counters with a new weapon like a Judo Hip Throw, or let Sparv walk into a Guillotine? Kadestam, while vocal about his striking, has been secretive about the other things he worked on at training camp.
Sparv looks physically imposing. The ground could be the game-changer for the Finland-born fighter. Take the kicker down and take away his legs.
But when it comes down to it, Van Den Bos says fighters always go back to what they do best. “I hate to say it, but Glenn Sparv can match-up with Kadestam’s physicality. I wouldn’t be surprised of he becomes the new champion via knockout.”