PROMOTIONAL newcomer and Korean cage veteran “Arale Chan” Seo Hee Ham has the spotlight firmly placed on her upcoming ONE Championship debut. The 34-year-old gets the chance to leave a lasting impression in her first foray into the Circle later this month.
Seo is one of eight women who will participate in the highly anticipated ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix. She takes on #1-ranked atomweight contender Denice “Lycan Queen” Zamboanga at ONE: EMPOWER.
ONE: EMPOWER was originally scheduled to broadcast live on 28 May from the Singapore Indoor Stadium, but was postponed until further notice due to the COVID-19 situation. The organization is expected to announce a new date soon, along with any changes to the card.
Many fans and analysts believe Seo is the ‘dark horse’ to win the entire tournament. Seo is fully ready to jump into that role and make a splash in the division.
“Physically and mentally, I feel like I’m in the best shape of my career. I feel strong and ready for my ONE Championship debut. It’s going to be a fun one,” Seo said.
“This is a great tournament and a great opportunity to compete among the best. I have butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it. It’s an honor to be part of the world’s largest martial arts organization, and I can’t wait to experience the Circle!”
Zamboanga is the division’s alpha female. The Filipina athlete joined ONE Championship in December 2019, upsetting top-rated talent Jihin “Shadow Cat” Radzuan. Zamboanga backed up that victory with another upset over former ONE World Title challenger Mei “V.V” Yamaguchi, to earn her spot at the top of the rankings.
On the other hand, Seo is widely regarded as the most dangerous entrant and most favored to win the tournament overall. The 34-year-old Korean isn’t looking past Zamboanga by any means, and is coming into this fight with what she feels is a solid game plan.
“She will probably look for a takedown and try to bring the fight to the ground. I don’t really mind fighting anywhere in MMA, so I’m just going to try to make the best of every situation,” Seo said.
“I believe I will knock her out, and that’s the plan. That’s what I want, but of course, I can’t guarantee that. I’m preparing to go the full distance. It has been a long time since my last fight, so I want to enjoy every minute of it.”
Other first round matches in the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix include a battle between #2-ranked contender Meng Bo and Brazilian newcomer Julie “Juju” Mezabarba, a rematch between #4-ranked Stamp Fairtex and #3-ranked Alyona Rassohyna, and Itsuki “Android 18” Hirata versus Alyse “Lil’ Savage” Anderson.
In the main event of ONE: EMPOWER, reigning ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan defends her world title against #2-ranked strawweight contender Michelle Nicolini. In the co-main event, six-time Kickboxing and Muay Thai World Champion Anissa “C18” Meksen makes her ONE Super Series debut against Martine “The Italian Queen” Michieletto.
Seo knows Zamboanga is a legitimate threat, and has prepared for her accordingly. “Arale Chan” is confident she will beat Zamboanga and advance to the next round.
“I think she’s a great athlete. She’s very strong and capable. I don’t think she has any real weaknesses. I don’t want to underestimate her,” Seo said.
“As always, if I work hard and give it my all, I think I can win the whole thing.”