South Korea’s Seo Hee Ham is the RIZIN super atomweight champion no more.
Late Friday night in Japan, RIZIN FF revealed that negotiations regarding the champion’s fighting future failed to meet any agreements. Thus resulting in Ham’s vacating of the title.
Ham became only the second super atomweight titleholder in the promotion’s near five-year history after dethroning her longtime rival, Ayaka Hamasaki, to close out 2019 at RIZIN 20.
The trilogy bout between the two unfolded as a must-see contest and ultimately one that resulted in Ham’s revenge after two prior losses to Hamasaki. The judges awarded “Hamderlei” with the split decision in one of the greatest fights you’ll ever see.
For the 31-fight veteran, the win extended her current winning streak to six in a row and was only her second decision that accompanied her first four career knockout wins. Directly prior to her atomweight return, Ham tested herself in the UFC at strawweight but things didn’t pan out successfully.
Excluding that stint, she has only lost to Hamasaki in the last 10 years and amassed a record of 15-2 (23-8 overall).
Ham’s apparent time away will leave a hole atop the division as many anticipated and looked forward to a potential quadrilogy bout with Hamasaki. Since the two fought on New Year’s Eve 2019, Hamasaki has gotten back in the win column by dispatching of Tomo Maesawa at RIZIN 22 with a second-round armbar.
Other notable contenders include the young but elite talent, Kanna Asakura, who has won three in a row in impressive fashion since going 1-2 in the three fights before that — starting with her bout where she contested for the inaugural crown opposite Hamasaki.
Another possible option to fight for the title is the Japanese superstar striker, Rena Kubota.
Despite having not competed at 108-pounds in her last five fights, Kubota has still expressed interest in winning the title which means a return to the division that she began her career in. She too rides a three-fight winning streak but after her recent win over Emi Tomimatsu at RIZIN 24, Kubota seemingly hinted at hanging up the gloves sooner rather than later.
Regardless, it will be interesting to see exactly what the future holds for those that make up the very best atop the atomweight division.