One Championship to Host All-Women’s Event on May 28 Featuring Title, Tourney

By: Jay Pettry
Mar 12, 2021

The One Championship atomweight tournament will officially begin on May 28.

On Thursday night, ESPN announced that One would commence its atomweight (115 pounds) grand prix on May 28. Although the existence of the tournament and its field was previously publicized, the brackets have now been unveiled. Additionally, the event titled “Empower” will exclusively consist of female fighters for the promotion, and it will take place in Singapore. Finally, a strawweight (125 pounds) title tilt will sit atop the event. One shared this information shortly after the ESPN report via press release, while stating that other bouts may be added to this card in the future.

In the main event, Jingnan Xiong (15-2) will put her 125-pound crown on the line against Michelle Nicolini (6-2). The champ has never lost when competing at the flyweight division, with her only two setbacks coming in a catchweight above 130 pounds and when she dropped down to face Angela Lee for One’s atomweight throne. China’s Xiong took home the belt in 2018, when she claimed the vacant strap by knocking out Tiffany Teo, and she has defended it four times to date.

Facing Xiong will be grappling specialist Nicolini, who may only be on a one-fight win streak but it came over former Xiong rival Angela Lee. The Brazilian has won by submission in five of her six career victories, with Lee the only woman she could not tap out in victory. The 39-year-old made her way into the promotion by submitting Mona Samir, Irina Mazepa and Iryna Kyselova in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively, all in the first round. A setback to Teo did not deter her hopes of a future title shot, as the Lee triumph propelled her into contention.

The eight-woman atomweight tournament contains the top-four ranked fighters in the division from One’s rankings, and the winner will earn a crack at Lee and gold at the end. Number one ranked Denice Zamboanga (6-0) will put her unbeaten record on the line against Sherdog’s pound-for-pound talent Seo Hee Ham (23-8) on the first leg. On the same side of the tournament, a rematch will be put together when #3 Alyona Rassohyna (13-4) squares off once more against #4 Nong Stamp (5-1). The two met in February, and Stamp tapped out with seven seconds left from a guillotine choke, only to protest the stoppage and cry foul about her first career defeat. The promotion has elected to run that match back in the first stage of this tournament.

On the other side of the bracket, the #2 Meng Bo (16-5) will try to eject powerful Indian wrestler Ritu Phogat (4-0) from the ranks of the unbeaten. Finally, fearless finisher Itsuki Hirata (7-0) will come to blows with Invicta Fighting Championships standout Alyse Anderson (5-1). The winners of Zamboanga-Ham and Rassohyna-Stamp will face off for a spot in the finals, as will the victors between Bo-Phogat and Hirata-Anderson.

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