Last Friday, the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix got off to a fiery start in Singapore.
The entire quarterfinal round of the biggest women’s mixed martial arts tournament in history played out at ONE: EMPOWER, and the results were spectacular.
Ultimately, four athletes advanced to the semifinals, where they will continue their respective quests for the Grand Prix silver belt and the accompanying shot at “Unstoppable” Angela Lee’s ONE Women’s Atomweight World Title.
Before the next round of the tournament, let’s take a look at the remaining participants in the field.
Semifinalist: Seo Hee Ham
With 23 professional victories before joining ONE, fifth-ranked atomweight contender “Arale Chan” Seo Hee Ham was considered the most accomplished competitor in the Grand Prix and regarded by many as the tournament favorite.
And in her promotional debut at ONE: EMPOWER, she maintained that status – just barely.
The South Korean veteran squared off with top-ranked Denice “Lycan Queen” Zamboanga in a highly competitive quarterfinal encounter, and she ultimately used her striking expertise to edge out the Filipina via split decision.
With the win “Arale Chan” advanced to the semifinals. Meanwhile, Zamboanga suffered her first professional loss and was eliminated from the field.
Semifinalist: Stamp Fairtex
Former two-sport ONE World Champion Stamp Fairtex earned her redemption in a big way.
After suffering her first mixed martial arts loss to #3-ranked Alyona Rassohyna in February – and then claiming that she did not tap out in that fight – the Thai megastar beat her rival in their quarterfinal rematch at ONE: EMPOWER.
The former atomweight kickboxing and Muay Thai queen used her striking brilliance to edge out Rassohyna on the feet, but she also fearlessly grappled with the Ukrainian on the mat, escaped her rival’s many submission attempts, and even landed ground-and-pound at the end of the contest.
It was a competitive three-round affair, but Stamp emerged with the split-decision win, evened the score with Rassohyna, and entered the semifinals.
Semifinalist: Ritu Phogat
After initially losing her spot in the Grand Prix this past May, Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat proved to the world that she belongs – and that she’s a true dark horse candidate to win it all.
The Indian wrestling sensation got back into the tournament with a dominant victory over “MMA Sister” Lin Heqin in July and then upset #2-ranked atomweight Meng Bo with a spectacular victory at ONE: EMPOWER.
Meng almost finished “The Indian Tigress” in the opening stanza of their quarterfinal matchup, rocking Phogat with a devastating right hand and nearly submitting her with an armbar.
But the Indian star survived, dusted herself off, and proceeded to dominate Meng with grappling and ground strikes to earn a unanimous decision. That comeback victory punched Phogat’s ticket to the semifinals, eliminated another tournament favorite, and shocked fans around the globe.
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Semifinalist: Itsuki Hirata
Itsuki “Android 18” Hirata maintained her spotless professional record at ONE: EMPOWER by utilizing her grappling prowess, but she experienced a frightening moment along the way.
The Japanese star had brilliantly used her judo and ground strikes to wear down Alyse “Lil’ Savage” Anderson in the first two stanzas. But in the final round of their quarterfinal matchup, the American connected with an overhand right that dropped “Android 18” like a pile of bricks.
To her credit, Hirata immediately returned to her feet, clinched up with her foe, and eventually tossed Anderson back to the mat to close out the fight.
“Android 18” showed how tough and durable she truly is, as she remained undefeated and eliminated a respected promotional newcomer in the process.
The Alternate: Julie Mezabarba
Julie Mezabarba is officially on stand-by.
The Brazilian underdog had a tough assignment in her promotional debut at ONE: EMPOWER, as she was matched up against former two-time ONE World Title challenger Mei “V.V” Yamaguchi in the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix alternate bout.
Many expected the Japanese veteran to dominate the contest, but Mezabarba showcased excellent takedown defense, tagged her rival with punches from range, and comfortably landed knees and elbows in the clinch.
That terrific display led to an upset win, and if any of the four semifinalists is forced to pull out, the Brazilian would take their spot in the Grand Prix.
Fan Voting For The Semifinal Matchups
Fans now have all the power.
Instead of ONE’s matchmakers pairing up the semifinalists, the promotion’s global fan base will decide the next matchups. Click here to vote and make your voice heard.
The voting ends on Friday, 10 September, and the tournament’s semifinal matches will officially be announced during the live broadcast of ONE: REVOLUTION on Friday, 24 September.