Seo Hee Ham remains a winner inside the ONE Championship circle despite a post-fight review.
ONE: Empower took place last Friday and featured the highly anticipated eight-woman world atomweight Grand Prix. Among the contestants was promotional newcomer, UFC veteran and former RIZIN super atomweight champion, Seo Hee Ham (24-8).
The seasoned 32-fight competitor in Korea’s Ham came in off the longest layoff of her career — her previous fight being when she won the RIZIN crown in her trilogy with Ayaka Hamasaki. The Philippines’ previously unbeaten Denice Zamboanga welcomed Ham to ONE but couldn’t get the job done as Ham took home the ever-close split decision nod.
Due to the outcry from fans along with Zamboanga and her team, ONE Championship felt prompted to review the decision. Thankfully for the multi-time MMA champion Ham, ONE’s competition committee upheld the result of the fight.
“It’s just one of these things,” ONE Founder Chatri Sityodtong told South China Morning Post. “When I look at it objectively, I still believe Denice won, but I respect and can see how the judges scored it for Ham. It went to the committee, and I was obviously wrong relative to the committee.”
Ham now remains in the semifinal mix with the likes of Itsuki Hirata, Stamp Fairtex, and Ritu Phogat. Meanwhile, Zamboanga is expected to next face the tournament’s alternate, Julie Mezabarba, for Mezabarba’s alternate spot as a consolation of sorts.
“Typically if there’s any controversial fights we will review it anyway internally,” Sityodtong said. “The committee will then decide if there is a really vocal rationale. This one was a controversial decision, but in many ways not controversial.
“It was a very close fight that could’ve gone either way. We’re always trying to strive for ensuring fair play. It’s just one of these things, from time to time we will review a bout. This one for me was less controversial, but Denice and her team were pounding the table for a review.
“We would rather not be involved, but we understand the rule of fair play and sportsmanship,” he continued. “We’ve been very lucky — in over 1,000 or 1,200 matches, we’ve had only a handful of matches where there might have been an egregious error or a real foul or something that would cause us to review it and possibly rule it as a no contest.”