Seo Hee Ham was the beneficiary of some generous judging at ONE: ‘Empower’. The former Road FC and Rizin champion made an underwhelming promotional debut and seemed reluctant to pull the trigger.
By contrast Denice Zamboanga had a clear strategy and it was effective. The Filipina looked to clinch with Ham and take her down and forced the UFC veteran to spend most of the fight either on her back or defending takedown attempts.
Ham never found a home for her straight left and looked tentative in the striking exchanges. Neither fighter landed anything of note in the opening round but Zamboanga pressed the Korean against the cage for the best part of five minutes before finally taking her down in the final second.
In the second round Zamboanga was able to complete a double leg takedown although Ham wasn’t on her back for long. Another lengthy clinch against the cage ensued with the referee separating the two atomweights with 30 seconds remaining.
Ham appeared to be behind heading into the final round but showed no sense of urgency, although a straight left did find its mark. A clash of heads burst open a wound on Zamboanga’s forehead and the fight seemed to be on the verge of being stopped.
But the Filipina was allowed to continue after a lengthy pause and she immediately took Ham down. She wasn’t able to do any damage, or capitalize with a submission attempt but the bell sounded with Zamboanga in top position and seemingly on course for the ninth win of her career.
Two of the judges saw it differently and it is Ham who will progress to the semi finals of the tournament after a surprising split decision win. She moves up to 24-9 while Zamboanga, who will probably be out of action for a few months, drops to 8-1.
In the other atomweight Grand Prix quarter finals Ritu Phogat (6-1) and Itsuki Hirata (5-0) scored decision wins over Meng Bo (17-6) and Alyse Anderson (5-2) respectively. The bout between Stamp Fairtex (6-1) and Alyona Rassohyna (13-5) went the distance too with the Thai fighter getting the nod from the judges.
After the Grand Prix bouts there was still time for Xiong Jing Nan (16-2) to beat Michelle Nicolini (6-2) by decision in a strawweight title bout between the only two fighters to ever defeat Angele Lee.
ONE: ‘Empower’, Singapore, September 3rdXiong Jing Nan def. Michelle Nicolini via Decision (Unanimous) Seo Hee Ham def. Denice Zamboanga via Decision (Split)Stamp Fairtex def. Alyona Rassohyna via Decision (Unanimous)Ritu Phogat def. Meng Bo via Decision (Unanimous)Itsuki Hirata def. Alyse Anderson via Decision (Unanimous)Kickboxing: Anissa Meksen def. Cristina Morales via TKO (Punches) at 2:27 of R1Kickboxing: Jackie Buntan def. Daniela Lopez via Decision (Unanimous) Julie Mezabarba def. Mei Yamaguchi via Decision (Unanimous)