A matter of days ago, RIZIN announced that Seo Hee Ham had vacated her super atomweight crown. The reason as to why has now been confirmed.
South Korea’s Ham closed out the 2019 campaign with some redemption to capture the RIZIN title. Thus making her a five-time champion across her illustrious career. In the bout, she clashed with arguably atomweight’s all-time best in Ayaka Hamasaki for what was their third encounter.
After dropping the first two prior meetings, Ham would avenge what has been her only losses below 115-pounds in the past decade. Her hand was raised to award her the split decision nod after one of the greatest fights you’ll ever see.
Prior to beginning her RIZIN run, Seo Hee Ham made her Road FC return in 2017. As part of their roster, she instantly claimed that title by taking out Mina Kurobe.
Initially, it was revealed by RIZIN that negotiations toward Ham’s first title defense couldn’t come to an agreement. According to RIZIN founder and president Nobuyuki Sakakibara, it came as a result of Ham’s Road contract ending — for one reason or another.
Ultimately, ONE Championship now homes the current best atomweight in the world.
“RIZIN is not a promotion but a federation (union, alliance)”, Sakakibara said at the RIZIN 25 announcement presser (via EFight), “The players are not bad [as a premise]. Athletes will shake if they can hang double or triple money. ONE pulled out RIZIN’s belted Ham to play a tournament with ridiculous money.”
As alluded to by Sakakibara, the time couldn’t have been any better for ONE as the promotion recently announced their intentions to hold an atomweight tournament in the absence of current champion Angela Lee. Lee announced recently that she’ll be on leave as she awaits the birth of her first child.
Pertaining to the future of RIZIN’s atomweight division, Sakakibara expressed the following.
“I’m sorry for Hamasaki and Kanna [Asakura] that the champion returned the belt,” he said, “I couldn’t eat that much. I think the strongest [atomweight class] is in RIZIN, so I want to play a vacant title deciding match.
“I want to wait for the day when Ham will win the ONE tournament and the strongest player in RIZIN will challenge again. Until then, the current players will work hard in RIZIN and I want to polish it to the point where they can’t say that they’re the strongest without catching the belt.”
RIZIN’s next event, RIZIN 25, takes place on November 21 while ONE returns with ONE: Inside the Matrix next week on October 30.