An Interview with Ham Seo-Hee, ROAD FC Atomweight Champ

2017-12-21 19:30




ROAD FC Atomweight Champion Ham Seo-Hee (18-8, Team MAD) will be making her first title defense this Saturday, December 23, at Xiaomi ROAD FC 045 XX versus Jinh Yu Frey. This bout sees the two best atomweights in the world compete, as Ham sits in the number one spot and Frey is at number two.

Ham has worked extremely long and hard to make it here. For a decade, Ham fought outside of her country and weight class for most of her matches, so being ranked as the world's best when she's finally fighting on home soil is an emotional milestone. And she's only 30 years old!

“You mean 'already 30' haha! Yes, I am proud of it... but I don't really think I can claim it's because of my skill. It's just a number. Since the level of women's MMA has increased considerably recently, I have to keep on trying not to drop below that level, gradually improve, and defend my position.”

It all started back in the early 2000s – her teenage years – when Ham was starting to discuss career paths with her family. Her parents suggested joining the military, which is considered a proud and difficult job in Korea and can lead to excellent prospects later.

“It was my parents' recommendation to become a soldier. So I started kickboxing to get fit and toughen up for the role.”

It opened up a whole new world. Ham was a prodigy right from the start. In 2007, her first year of professional MMA and kickboxing, she beat two women who were at the top of the rankings in Japan: Hisae Watanabe (who was 17-4) and Megumi Yabushita (who was 15-10).

“At the time, I remember being really surprised. It was amazing and funny because it was only my debut!”



Then it was a seesaw as she was pit against even more of the top competition, including Megumi Fujii – which was one of only 3 times she has ever been finished in a fight. She's had a decade in the sport, winning the Jewels Championship title, the CMA/KSW title, a stint in the UFC, and finally the ROAD FC title.

After earning and defending her DEEP Jewels title for the second time, and finally joining ROAD FC as her homecoming to Korea, Ham was offered a spot on the UFC roster. The opportunity saw her return to the strawweight division as there was no atomweight. Her first two fights were against Muay Thai phenom Joanne Calderwood – recorded as one of the top 20 best strawweight fights of all time – and Cortney Casey, which got her a stellar Fight of the Night win bonus. Ham's next two fights were decision losses that were widely decried as robberies; both of her opponents visually expected their hand not to be raised, and commented upon Ham's toughness after the fights.

“The thing is that I had to fight with bigger opponents in UFC so it was a bit tricky. Thanks to a variety of experiences I had in those large-scale events, I no longer feel anxiety and fear in the cage."



Ham Seo-Hee returned to fighting in Korea and was offered an immediate bout versus DEEP Champion Mina Kurobe for the inaugural ROAD FC Women's Atomweight title.


“I thought about retiring after the UFC, but ROAD FC gave me an amazing opportunity to fight for the first-ever women's MMA title in Korea. I was delighted when I won, and because of the weight of it, I felt that I would have to work harder from now on.”

In a very short few years, Ham has experienced a rise to world-class fighting that she has most deservedly earned. Her first ROAD FC title defense comes in the form of a woman who is standing on the same international footing, a superstar in Invicta FC and top in the rankings, Jinh Yu Frey.

“This title match between us makes me really feel that ROAD FC is expanding across the world. If I felt burdened and uneasy in my last fight, this time it feels fun and I'm anticipating the match. Of course, I think keeping the belt is harder than earning it. But this time I trained even a lot more than I did for the title fight, and I am more confident because I am very prepared. If there's something you have to hold on to, you become stronger.”

Ham is upbeat about the match in front of her, but she's not taking it lightly. In fact, she has placed Frey's photo as her own avatar on her Kakao messenger.

“I guess you could call it a jinx? When a match is set, I always make my opponent as my profile picture. That way I make eye contact every day. So that my opponent can get used to it!”



Ham may be coy, but she is candid about Frey's ability.

“Her way to finish can be decided by a single punch. I watched her fight with Hamasaki, but I didn't get much more of a reference because the fight itself was short. She has a very good physique. It's hard to make that body as a woman.”

However, this will be Ham's 27th fight, and she's prepared for very tough opponents in the past, so she's keenly aware of what's at stake now.

“I prepared so hard so that I can't be physically defeated. Technical practice, muscular endurance training, and sparring like a real match. I am confident because I prepared so hard this time.”

Ham Seo-Hee is about to take part in the most important women's MMA match in the atomweight division today. Her career has been long, but as she's at the top of her game, so she must also consider her plans for the future. And there's no retirement in the mix now.

“I think about the future all the time. I want to improve technically, and I am thinking about developing a new style. But right now, I'm focusing on this important fight. As it's the last event of the year, I will work hard so that the fans can watch a fun and interesting match. I will do my best up to the very last second. I will regret nothing. I won't let anyone be ashamed of their champion.”

ROAD FC Atomweight Champion Ham Seo-Hee takes on top contender Jinh Yu Frey this Saturday, December 23, at Xiaomi ROAD FC 045 XX. Please visit here for complete international broadcast details.




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 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 at stream on Tencent at  Global expansion next event: Event: "360GAME" presents ROAD Fighting Championship 027 Date: Saturday, 26 December, 2015Place: Shanghai, China