In a rematch three years in the making, South Korean kickboxing standout Seo Hee Ham once again defeated Jewels mainstay Saori “Shooting Star” Ishioka tonight at DEEP: “52 Impact” in Tokyo, Japan. Ham battered Ishioka en route to a commanding Unanimous Decision after two dominant rounds.
Ham and Ishioka first met in the opening round of the 2008 Smackgirl World ReMix Grand Prix, with Ham taking a convincing decision win in that bout as well. Her crisp striking was again too much for Ishioka, a karate practitioner with a solid ground game, as Ham cruised to victory in tonight’s rematch.
After an early exchange of leg kicks, Ham (7-4-0) began to score with hard kicks to Ishioka’s (11-6-0) body. With Ishioka’s defences down, Ham landed a head kick that sparked a flurry of punches from her opponent. Ham’s crisp counterpunches immediately began to take their toll, however, as she landed quick combinations and more head kicks that Ishioka did her best to defend. As Ham backed Ishioka up, Ishioka’s head struck Ham’s chin, which prompted a stern warning from the South Korean.
Ishioka managed to land a one-two, but immediately ate a counter hook for her efforts. Ham once again targeted the body, this time with punches, and Ishioka dove in for a takedown. Ham scrambled out and stood over her downed opponent, landing kicks to Ishioka’s legs. Referee Samio Kimura called time to check a cut on Ham’s right ear, but the fight continued and Ham punished Ishioka with more leg and body kicks. Ishioka fired off wild punches late in the round, but Ham picked her apart with superior striking until the bell.
Round two began with an all-out assault from Ham, as she unloaded with big kicks and punches before Ishioka could even move away from her corner. Ishioka fired back with wild punches, but few connected. Ishioka shot in for a takedown and Ham pancaked her on the ground, then settled into Ishioka’s guard. As ground strikes to the head are not permitted in women’s bouts in DEEP, Ham simply remained low in Ishioka’s guard and killed time until she could stand back up.
Ham landed a blistering left cross and a devastating liver punch that doubled Ishioka over, but Ishioka showed big heart in persevering and trying for another takedown. Ham defended and kicked at a prone Ishioka’s legs until the fight was stood up. Ham stuck to an effective game plan of leg kicks, but Ishioka finally managed to land some decent punches and kicks in return. Ham scored with a flurry and Ishioka attempted a takedown. Ham reversed and wound up on top in side-control. She took Ishioka’s back, then returned to the side before the bell.
Following the two clear-cut rounds, the judges were unanimous in their verdict, giving Ham the seventh victory of her career. Ishioka suffered her sixth defeat in 17 career bouts.
Winner: Seo Hee Ham by Unanimous Decision after two 5:00 rounds. She improves to 7-4-0.
With the victory, Ham adds yet another impressive win to her résumé, which includes bouts with many of the top female fighters in the sport. The South Korean holds a victory over former DEEP champion Hisae Watanabe and battled the recently-retired Miku “Supernova” Matsumoto to a competitive loss in 2007, but has thus far been unable to capture a major MMA title in DEEP or Jewels.
(Photo Credit: Jewels blog)