Seo Hee Ham Defeats Ayaka Hamasaki, Captures Title At Rizin FF 20The third time was the charm for Seo Hee Ham, as the South Korean star avenged a loss and captured a title tonight at Rizin Fighting Federation 20 in Saitama, Japan. Ham edged out a narrow Split Decision win over Ayaka Hamasaki to become Rizin FF Women’s Super Atomweight Champion.

Ham, who had previously suffered a pair of defeats against Hamasaki in strawweight bouts under the Jewels banner more than eight years ago, got a measure of revenge tonight. It was Ham’s underrated ground game that proved to be a key factor in earning her a win and the prestigious Rizin title.


Ham (23-8-0) and Hamasaki (19-3-0) traded hard punches right away tonight and Ham pressed forward as Hamasaki countered with leg kicks. Ham landed a one-two and ate jabs in return, which led to an exchange of power punches that Hamasaki somewhat surprisingly got the better of. Ham began to land leg kicks of her own, and she countered a lead uppercut with a straight left hand. Another combination landed for Ham as well, but Hamasaki’s counterpunches continued to score and Ham’s eye began to swell up. In the final minute, Ham tried to press forward with punches again, but Hamasaki countered with crisp combinations and she landed lead right hooks before the bell.

Cautious strikes were exchanged in round two until Hamasaki caught a kick and took Ham down. Ham quickly countered with a triangle choke from the bottom and she attacked with elbows to the sides of Hamasaki’s head. Hamasaki held on, but she could not escape from the hold and Ham continued to score with elbows from her back. Ham landed even more elbows until the bell and she prevented Hamasaki from mounting any offence at all.

In round three, Hamasaki landed an early one-two, but Ham cracked her with quick combinations and Hamasaki’s nose began to bleed. The fighters clinched and Ham kept Hamasaki pinned against the ropes while landing knees in close. Eventually, Hamasaki secured a much-needed throw into side control and she landed some short punches from the scarf hold position. This continued until the final seconds when Hamasaki stood and landed a soccer kick.

One judge scored tonight’s trilogy fight for Hamasaki. The remaining two judges both sided with Ham, who took a close and hard-fought Split Decision victory that earned her the Rizin FF Women’s Super Atomweight Championship. As the current Road FC Women’s Atomweight Champion, and with recent stoppage wins over Invicta FC champ Jinh Yu Frey and Deep Jewels titleholder Tomo Maesawa, Ham is now the top female fighter in MMA at both 105 and 108 pounds.

“I can’t express my feelings about being champ just yet. I need to be a great champion,” Ham stated backstage following her title win. “Ayaka is a strong fighter. My next mission is to retain this title. I was surprised when I heard the 2-1 [split decision] from the judges and I’ll need to watch the fight video. This fight was not striking-based as I had expected. I want to fight [Hamasaki] again because she accepted to fight me three times, but I also want new opponents to test me as well. For younger fighters, it’s not easy to chase me. If you want a title shot, be prepared. As well, if there is good opportunity, I will welcome a fight in Bellator.”

“I lost my title belt and so I need to earn it back,” former champion Hamasaki reflected backstage after her defeat. “My mistake cost me the fight and so I need to review that. In the striking, I thought I could win in the first round but I did poorly in round two. I did not think that Ham was not good at grappling, so my mistake [in letting Ham control with the triangle choke] was the key and I was elbowed too much from the bottom. I am 2-1 against Ham, but this last fight was a loss and so I must collect a win in order to earn a fight with Ham again and I must also accept this loss. The super atomweight class has a lot of talent, so I would like to fight right away in order to earn my rematch.”



(Photo Credit: Rizin FF)