Who is the best atomweight woman on the planet? Well now, we’ve got some discussion now.
Saturday at Road Fighting Championship 45 the Grand Hilton Convention Center in Seoul, Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Seo Hee Ham defended her Road FC title in rousing style, knocking out former Invicta Fighting Championships title challenger Jinh Yu Frey late in the first round.
Former Invicta 105-pound champion Ayaka Hamasaki vacating her atomweight title this past July created a vacuum atop the division, given the lack of certainty that the Japanese standout would return to Invicta or snatch the 115-pound UFC contract she sought. Regardless, fighting in her natural weight class, “Hamderlei Silva” went to work in a hurry, pressuring her fellow savvy striker on the feet throughout the opening five minutes. With less than 30 seconds left in Round 1, both southpaws launched power shots, the champion landing first and harder with a lethal left-hook counter. Frey hit the mat and Ham was on top of her woman in a hurry, delivering fight-clinching hammerfists until referee Tae Uk Lim could intervene.
The official stoppage came at 4:40 of the opening frame.
In her two-year UFC turn, Ham went 1-3 in the Octagon. After losing to Scottish striker Joanne Calderwood in her debut, Ham earned a decision win over Cortney Casey-Sanchez, but came out on the wrong end of a pair of questionable decision losses to Bec Rawlings to Danielle Taylor, precipitating her release from the company. The 30-year-old returned to Road FC in June, earning a third-round strikes stoppage over Japanese vet Mina Kurobe to take Road FC’s vacant women’s atomweight title.
Frey, 32, last saw action in the Invicta cage in July, taking a unanimous nod over Ashley Cummins. In Frey’s prior fighting engagement, she was the bittersweet loser to aforementioned then-champ Hamasaki. Frey was soundly in control of the Japanese titlist for the better part of two rounds before being stopped on a cut by the ringside physician.
In a women's openweight affair, controversial Japanese pro-wrestler Yoshiko Hirano suffered her first loss, outmatched by South Korean featherweight Young Ji Kim. Hirano had a 37-pound weight advantage over her fellow 24-year-old upstart but could do nothing with it, as she was soundly outstruck over 10 minutes by her Korean counterpart.
Hirano, more known for moonlighting an independent pro-wrestler, gained viral attention nearly three years ago for a match with Act Yasukawa, in which Hirano broke kayfabe and began to legitimately attack her adversary, breaking her fellow World Wonder Ring Stardom performer’s cheek, nasal and orbital bones. The high-profile incident has effectively blackballed Hirano from the Japanese women’s pro-wrestling scene, leading to her fledgling MMA career.
Elsewhere on the Road FC 45 bill: super heavyweight dance fiend and spinning stylist Chris Barnett threw his usual exotic techniques, plus punches, to halt Yoon Jae Shim at 3:33 of Round 2; Kyrgyz lightweight Rafael Fiziev grabbed a 58-second knockout with a head kick and ground-and-pound against Mongolia’s Munguntsooj Nandinerdene; Rizin FF veteran Destanie Yarbrough won a unanimous decision over Begimzhan Kasymova; bantamweight Ramona Pascual topped local Seo Woo Jin after two rounds; South Korea’s Seo Hee Lim took a 10-minute nod over China’s Pan Hui at 110 pounds; and in a 159-pound contest, Won Bin Kim choked out Japan’s Keisuke Iwata at 2:09 of the first round.
In opening action on the card: upstart middleweight In Su Hwang needed only 11 seconds to smash out Jung Kyo Park; bantamweight Yi Sak Kim took a two-round decision over Dong Soo Seo.