ONE Championship: Seo Hee Ham Admits to Nerves After Long Layoff

Seo Hee Ham is one of the better known names in ONE Championship’s upcoming women’s atomweight grand prix. She’s also one of the favorites to win tournament, after stints in the UFC, ROAD FC, and RIZIN Fighting Federation — the latter two of which she captured gold in.

Now, she embarks on a new journey. “It’s an honor. It’s an honor to sign with ONE Championship,” Ham (23-8) said during a media day this week, promoting the grand prix. It all kicks off in May, with the all-female Empower card. “My only goal is to get that belt, and I’m going to keep moving forward until I get it.”

As to what led her to sign with ONE, Ham explained that “I wanted to challenge myself by competing somewhere where I’d never competed before. Right now, I think in my opinion, ONE Championship is the biggest stage for me.” Of course, signing with ONE meant vacating her RIZIN super atomweight title, without having defended it. When it came to dropping the belt, however, “I can’t really say it was a hard decision, because I just followed my heart,” said Ham.

The South Korean fighter would go on to say that “I was in a difficult situation where everything was hard” in regards to leaving RIZIN. While she did not elaborate, Japan, where RIZIN exclusively operates, is currently closed to foreign fighters, a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Ham did not compete at all in 2020.

After over a year away, Ham later added that “I have two feelings. One is that, I never really had this kind of long layoff, which is one year and a half. So I’m a little concerned about how I’ll be competing inside there.” On the other hand, “at the same time, my second feeling is that this is a new stage. It’s a new experience for me. So I’m very excited, also very nervous, but mostly I’m very excited and very happy.”

As to who the biggest threat in the tournament is, Ham said that “as an athlete, I believe everyone is a hard opponent and a difficult opponent.”

Watch the full ONE Championship: Empower virtual media day with Seo Hee Ham above. ONE Championship: Empower takes place May 28, 2021 and sees Ham take on Denice Zamboanga in quarterfinal action.