After taking a pair of kickboxing bouts outside of the promotion, South Korean star Seo Hee Ham has been released from Jewels and is out of the 2010 Lightweight Grand Prix. Jewels has booked a fight between Saori “Shooting Star” Ishioka and Celine Haga for “Tenth Ring” on October 10th, with the winner taking Ham’s spot in the tournament semi-finals.
Ham was originally set to compete in the second round of the Grand Prix at “Tenth Ring” before a scheduling change delayed the tournament semi-finals until December. She subsequently accepted two October kickboxing bouts.
Ham (5-3-0), easily one of the best female strikers in mixed martial arts, advanced to the semi-finals of the Jewels 52kg Lightweight (114-pound) Grand Prix by defeating Mai Ichii at Jewels: “Ninth Ring” in July. She systematically picked Ichii apart in the lengthy striking exchanges before threatening with submissions on the ground. Ham was expected to compete in the semi-finals at “Tenth Ring,” but the tournament schedule was adjusted and she opted to accept a pair of kickboxing bouts against male professional wrestlers for the Gladiator promotion in October. As a result of the conflict, Jewels opted to release Ham from her contract. The winner of the Ishioka-Haga fight will assume her tournament spot.
Ishioka (9-5-0) was seen by many as one of the tournament favourites in the Grand Prix, but she was upset by unbeaten Club Barbarian Impact prospect Sakura Nomura in the quarterfinals. She then hinted at taking a break from MMA, but regrouped and will now have a second chance to advance on. Haga (1-5-0) was unable to follow up on her massive upset victory over Mika “Future Princess” Nagano in May and was submitted by Nagano in the pair’s tournament quarterfinal rematch. Like Ishioka, Haga will now receive a second chance and another upset win would be huge for the Norwegian’s career.
Nomura (3-0-0), who bested Ishioka in July, will still compete in the semi-finals in December but will keep busy with a shootboxing match at “Tenth Ring.” Also part of the card is a one-day 52kg grappling tournament. The four participants in the grappling competition will be Yuko “Amiba” Oya, Asami Kodera, Ayaka Hamasaki and Emi Tomimatsu.
Jewels: “Tenth Ring” takes place on October 10th at Shin-Kiba 1st Ring in Tokyo, Japan.
Frank Pozen contributed to this report.
(Photo Credit: Jewels blog)