American Tyler McGuire (11-0) has a shot at championship gold in Singapore, and he plans on taking his opportunity and joining ONE Championship’s top table of superstars.
McGuire takes on fellow contender Zebaztian Kadestam for the vacant ONE Welterweight World Title in the main event of ONE: WARRIOR’S DREAM in Jakarta, Indonesia on Saturday, 17 November.
And the American says victory will cement his position as one of the best in the world.
“To be a ONE World Champion means you are one of the world’s elite,” the 32-year-old says.
“You have guys like Brandon Vera holding the heavyweight World Title, Aung La N Sang as a double champion, guys in the lower weights like Shinya Aoki, and greats like Eddie Alvarez and Demetrious Johnson are coming over.”
McGuire racked up 10 straight wins in the United States before making his ONE Championship debut at ONE: PURSUIT OF POWER in Malaysia and defeating former title challenger Luis “Sapo” Santos via unanimous decision.
“It was surreal. I had been to other promotion’s shows, but ONE: PURSUIT OF POWER was by far the best production and the most well put together production I had ever seen,” he says.
“It was just the coolest, nicest cage I had ever been in, hands down. The crowd, the atmosphere, I was just in awe taking it in.
“Fighting on that stage was incredible. It was definitely the coolest thing I’d ever done.”
Despite being dazzled by the production and scale of the event, McGuire was still able to keep his mind on the task in hand, and he produced a dominant display to overpower Santos and secure the victory on the scorecards.
“I knew that I had prepared and I put the work in, and I wanted to show my work. I wanted the fans to want to watch me fight, and I feel like I went out and did that,” the Washington native explains.
“At the beginning, a lot of people were cheering for ‘Sapo,’ and by the end, I had a lot of people cheering for me. It was nice to see that.”
His victory immediately established McGuire as a legitimate contender for the ONE Welterweight World Title, and he recognised that fact even before the bout took place.
“I knew that if ONE was putting my feet to the fire right away against ‘Sapo,’ then a title shot was probably coming next,” he says.
“I felt like they were seeing if I was ready for a World Title shot.”
His performance left little doubt of that readiness, and the ONE Championship bosses moved swiftly to book McGuire in a title bout with Swedish contender Kadestam, who delivered a stunning performance of his own in the main event of the same event in Malaysia.
Kadestam stopped local hero Agilan Thani via third-round TKO after comprehensively outstriking “The Alligator” throughout the contest to earn his shot at the belt, and now “The Bandit” will face McGuire for the vacant title in Jakarta on 17 November.
The pair got to know each other during the week leading up to their recent bouts, and the American says he admires his upcoming opponent hugely, though that wont’ stop him from looking to claim a dominant victory over him in their title bout.
“I think he’s a great individual,” McGuire says.
“He brings a lot to the sport. He’s one of the toughest son of a guns I’ve ever seen in my life. I know he’s going to show up to fight, and that’s what I want.”
Kadestam showcased his striking skills in his performance, while McGuire highlighted his dominant wrestling abilities. It promises to deliver a clash of styles when the pair meet, but the American warns people he is far from a one-trick pony.
“I really think my striking is underrated,” he says.
“I think Kadestam said recently that I can’t really hurt him on the feet, and we’ll see. I do work hard on my striking and I’m trying to be a complete martial artist. If the opening is there for a takedown, I’m going to take it, but if not, we’re going to stand there and strike.”
The bout should produce a classic striker versus grappler contest, and with both men possessing similar never-say-die mindsets, their clash for the title should deliver a spectacular main event when they meet on 17 November.
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