Ham Seo-Hee: One on One with Title Contender

2017-06-09 11:00

An interview with Ham Seo-Hee, ROAD FC Women's Atomweight contender



Ham Seo-Hee (17-8, Team MAD) is the pioneer for women's MMA in South Korea. She made her professional MMA debut 10 years ago in Deep 28 Impact against Hisae Watanabe, won by decision, and became a new force in women's MMA.

Over the next 7 years, Ham racked up an impressive record of 12-5 fighting at 48 and 52 kgs, and earned wins over the likes of Mei Yamaguchi, Emi Fujino, and Naho Sugiyama. Ham has only been finished twice in 10 years: by the legendary Megumi Fujii and Invicta Atomweight champ Ayaka Hamasaki.

Ham is known world-over, yet she is still humble about her status.

“It sounds too great to be called a pioneer. Of course, I'm very proud that I'm a first-generation female MMA fighter.”

Ham debuted in ROAD FC in 2014 and won back to back matches against Alyona Rassohyna and Shino VanHoose. Next she claimed the DEEP JEWELS Featherweight (48kg) title from Saori Ishioka. Subsequently, Ham was picked up by the UFC and made history as the first female fighter from South Korea in the promotion. She made her debut in one of the greatest strawweight fights of all time against Joanne Calderwood. Ham went 1-3 with the promotion with her last back to back losses being widely proclaimed as massive robberies by the judges.

Now Ham will once again be fighting live in her home of Korea, and will make history a second time by competing in the inaugural ROAD FC Women's Atomweight Championship.

“For the first time in Korea, a women's title match is going to be held. This is monumental. I was originally going to quit fighting, but ROAD FC President Jung Mun-Hong gave me a great chance. I thought, a female athlete doesn't normally get treated like this. So I decided to keep going. I feel proud to be treated so well. It means a lot.”

Admittedly, the word “retirement” has been a touchy subject in her household. Ham's long term boyfriend, Kim Chang-Hyun, is also a professional fighter who came out of retirement to compete in the ROAD FC $1 Million Lightweight Tournament. She and Kim, who is one of Korea's notable first generation of MMA fighters as well, train side by side at Team MAD.

“Since over half of my entire day is related to training, I rely a lot on him. We give each other advice on what we need to fix. There are some things I'm better at and some things he's better at, so we can work together to improve.”

The pressure in their household could be quite high, with a title fight and a huge tournament looming for the power pair. Ham knows Kim has a stiff year ahead of him, and many fights he has to go through, just to make it to the finals.

“I hope he keeps winning. I wonder 'If you exercise as hard as you can, will you take the whole tournament?' Actually, I'm a little embarrassed talking about my boyfriend's fighting.”



Once Ham re-signed with ROAD FC and a championship opportunity was decided, all that was left was determining her opponent. Given the gravity of ROAD FC's first female title and Ham's return to Korea, the region's best had to be lined up. Kurobe Mina, the current DEEP JEWELS Atomweight Champion was offered the chance for the match up. Kurobe won the title at 39 years of age.

“At first I was surprised at her age. It should be hard to start fighting at that age and last through three rounds. But she's been fighting young women and they're hard, too. Having overcome all of that, she's been in a championship match. I think it's incredible. I feel that she's a very persistent competitor.”

Excluding Kurobe's age, Ham knows she will come into this fight knowing full well the weight of a championship. She won't overlook Kurobe, and she's eager to restart her home ground career with a massive victory, so she must be well-prepared.

“I've been studying her strategy. I keep watching her. In just her training videos I can see she has power. But as far as training specifically for her, I've done nothing special. I've prepared hard for a match. The preparation process is pretty much the same.”

Ham is truly a veteran of the sport and ROAD FC is proud to have her fighting for the first female championship in front of her countrymen and women. Ham feels excited about it, too.

“I feel desire to win rather than pressure to win. There's no burden. I just want to win [laughs].”

Although Ham has never been a fighter who smack talks in order to steal the show, she does feel more lively about this special match and she's sharing her true personality with her fans. And with Kurobe as well.

“Kurobe Mina, how did you end up in such a big competition? [laughs] We are two old veteran fighters coming into this match. Don't listen to what everyone is saying, I don't fight so hard! [laughs] I hope we will both be aggressive and put on an amazing performance.”

When Ham steps into the cage next, she will have a huge amount of support from the hometown crowd as well as fans around the world who have followed her storied career from the early days of women's MMA in Japan to the UFC.

“It has been a long journey to get back to Korea and ROAD FC. I'm going to work to show off the experience I've accumulated. I hope my fans will support me a lot.”


The inaugural ROAD FC Women's Atomweight Championship Match: Kurobe Mina vs Ham Seo-Hee will be live on June 10, 2017 at the Jangchung Gymnasium in Seoul, South Korea. The event will air live on MBC in Korea and Abema in Japan, as well as internationally on YouTube, and on CCTV in China.



ROAD FC announces global expansion into CHINA with 360GAME ROAD FC 027 on 26December
  ROAD FC global expansion into China with 360GAME ROAD FC 027 in Shanghai on 26 December, 2015  9 October, 2015 - ROAD FC announces global expansion into China with 360GAME presents ROAD FC 027 in Shanghai on 26 December, 2015.   During the official weigh in event on 8 October for 360GAME ROAD FC 026, ROAD FC CEO Jung Moon-Hong made the announcement that ROAD FC will be expanding operations into China.  ROAD Fighting Championship is South Korea's premier MMA organization which has held twenty-eight events since it was founded in 2011. After setting a bench mark of one event almost every month in 2014, ROAD FC embarked on a global expansion plan and held its first ever international event in Tokyo, Japan in 2015. This year will also witness more dramatic growth as ROAD FC will host its first show in China, in the metropolis of Shanghai, on 26 December. ROAD FC is currently negotiating a venue with a capacity of 18,000. 360GAME ROAD FC 027 will be broadcast live in China and internationally across multiple platforms, which ROAD FC CEO Jung revealed included: “China's State-owned broadcaster CCTV, local terrestrial broadcasters, and the internet portal of Tencent, we are scheduled to broadcast.”  Tencent is Asia's largest internet company and competes with the largest internet companies in the world.  Tencent's internet portal QQ.com is one of the largest in China. ROAD FC's live broadcast in China on QQ will begin immediately with 360GAME ROAD FC 026 on 9 October. Event: "360GAME" presents ROAD Fighting Championship 026 Date: Friday, 9 October, 2015Place: Jangchung Gymnasium, Seoul, South KoreaMain event live at 20:00KSTLive PPV stream on Epicentre.tv at http://www.epicentre.tv/events/road-fc-026/Live stream on Tencent QQ.com at http://sports.qq.com/zt2015/ROADFC/  Global expansion next event: Event: "360GAME" presents ROAD Fighting Championship 027 Date: Saturday, 26 December, 2015Place: Shanghai, China