Itsuki Hirata Out of Atomweight Grand Prix, Jenelyn Olsim In Against Ritu Phogat at ONE: NextGen

Jenelyn Olsim ONE Championship
Jenelyn Olsim, Batteground III Credit: ONE Championship

ONE Championship’s ongoing atomweight grand prix has undergone another shake-up.

On Monday, promotion officials announced via press release that undefeated Japanese star Itsuki Hirata had been forced to pull out of the tournament, which resumes at Friday’s ONE: NextGen card. That left opponent Ritu Phogat in need of a new opponent.

Stepping up to take Hirata’s place is Jenelyn Olsim, who had been expected to fight in a tournament alternate bout against Jihin Radzuan.

Hirata was reportedly forced to withdraw from her fight due to an illness other than COVID-19. Previously, Seo-Hee Ham was also forced to drop out of her fight with Stamp Fairtex.

Olsim (5-2) will enter her fight with India’s Phogat off two straight victories, against Maira Mazar and Bi Nguyen. She entered ONE Championship via the Warrior Series in 2018, and had previously competed for WSOF Global.

The Filipino fighter will have a tough task against decorated Indian wrestler Phogat (6-1). Having also won two straight fights, Phogat is coming off a unanimous decision win against the much more experienced Meng Bo in the women’s atomweight grand prix quarterfinals.

The loss of Hirata is not the only blow the NextGen card has suffered. Friday’s show has also lost its main event, with Roman Kryklia pulling out of his ONE Heavyweight Kickboxing World Title fight against Iraj Azizpour. An undisclosed medical issue was behind the withdrawal.

As a result, the atomweight grand prix semifinal between Stamp Fairtex and Julie Mezabarba (who replaced Ham) will now headline the card.