It’s girl power this Friday at ONE Championship! ONE Championship is hosting its first all-women’s card featuring the Atomweight Grand Prix and finishing off with a title bout for the Women’s strawweight belt. Let’s take a look at the Grand Prix and card for ONE: EMPOWER.
For those who don’t know, ONE does their Grand Prix differently from Bellator and other organizations. Instead of the champion being in the mix, they are the final boss at the end. In short, whoever wins the Grand Prix will face off against champion, Angela “Unstoppable” Lee. Lee has been away from the MMA scene for almost two years. Her last fight was a title defense against Strawweight Champion Jingnan Xiong back in October of 2019. Between the Covid-19 pandemic and Lee being pregnant with a child that was born in April of 2021, Lee’s competitors have been eager to see her return to get a chance at the belt.
ONE: EMPOWER was actually supposed to take place on May 28th, 2021, but was postponed due to Covid-19.
“To have an all female card like this happening now? I’m just very, very proud of how far we’ve come.”
-ONE Atomweight Champion Angela Lee on ONE: EMPOWER’s all female card
Lead Card (Prelims)
Mei Yamaguchi (21-12) vs Julie Mezabarba (8-2-1)
This bout will serve as an “Atomweight World Grand Prix Alternate Bout.” Essentially that means that if any of the eight women cannot continue in the Grand Prix for whatever reason, the winner of this match will take their place. This was originally one of two alternate bouts, but Grace Cleveland vs Jenelyn Olsim has been removed from the card. MMA Island has reached out to ONE for the reason.
Jackie Buntan (2-0) vs Daniela Lopez (2-0) [Muay Thai]
With there being no Strawweight Muay Thai Champion, both of these women are aiming to prove that they are worthy to fight for the inaugural title.
Anissa Meksen (100-5) vs Cristina Morales (47-7) [Kickboxing]
In this bout, we see seasoned veterans of the fight game duking it out in their ONE debuts.
Itsuku Hirata (4-0) vs Alyse Anderson (5-1)
In our first bout in the Atomweight Grand Prix, we see Japan’s Itsuku Hirata face off against the United States’s Alyse Anderson. Anderson comes from Invicta and is making her ONE debut.
Meng Bo (17-5) vs Ritu Phogat (5-1)
Moving on to our second bout, it’s China’s Meng Bo against India’s Ritu Phogat. Phogat was originally a part of the Grand Prix before having her spot taken by Bi Ngyuen in a controversial decision. After defeating Lin Heqin, Phogat regained her position in the Grand Prix. She has a tough challenge in front of her with China’s #1 women’s pound-for-pound fighter according to tapology.
Alyona Rassohyna (13-4) vs Stamp Fairtex (5-1) 2
After Ukraine’s Alyona Rassohyna gave Thailand’s Stamp Fairtex her first loss in MMA earlier this year, Stamp is looking to get revenge in the Grand Prix’s third match.
Denice Zamboanga (8-0) vs Seo Hee Ham (23-8)
To finish off the quarterfinals of the Grand Prix, we have the Philippines’s Denice Zamboanga facing off against South Korea’s Seo Hee Ham. Zamboanga has been very dominant in her eight professional fights, but must stare down “Korea’s Pride” as said by UFC Fighter “The Korean Zombie”
(C) Xiong Jing Nan (15-2) vs Michelle Nicolini (6-2)
To finish off the card, we have the battle for the ONE Strawweight Championship. Both of these women have one thing in common that no other woman in the world can claim. Both have a win over ONE Atomweight Champion Angela Lee.
How to watch
To find out how to watch ONE: EMPOWER, live at 7:30 AM EST, click here.