ONE Championship makes history on Friday as it presents the first all-women’s fight card hosted by a major global martial arts organization.
Titled “ONE: Empower,” the marquee event will happen at the Singapore Indoor Stadium and feature eight fights involving some of the top women fighters in the world.
Headlining the card is the strawweight world championship clash between reigning champion Xiong Jing Nan (15-2) of China and Brazilian challenger Michelle Nicolini (6-2).
Ms. Xiong, 33, has been on a tear since winning the title of the 52.3kg division in January 2018.
She has successfully defended the strawweight title four times, the last one against Tiffany Teo of Singapore by way of unanimous decision.
Ms. Nicolini, 39, meanwhile, is the no. 2-ranked strawweight contender and world champion jiu-jitsu fighter.
She has competed in ONE six times, winning five, including her last fight in July 2019 against reigning atomweight champion Angela Lee (unanimous decision) in a strawweight battle.
Empower will also kick off the much-anticipated ONE world atomweight grand prix.
Competing in four quarterfinal matches are Denice Zamboanga of the Philippines versus Seo Hee Ham of South Korea, Alyona Rassohyna of Ukraine against Stamp of Thailand, Meng Bo of China vs. Ritu Phogat of India, and Itsuki Hirata of Japan against Alyse Anderson of the United States.
Winners in the opening round advance to the semifinals and then to the finals where the remaining two dispute the grand prix belt and earn a shot at the world atomweight title against champion Ms. Lee.
“She’s the strongest, I think the strongest in the card. The strongest opponent that I’ll be facing throughout my career, so I think this would be a hard fight for the both of us,” said Ms. Zamboanga of her opponent Ms. Seo during the virtual face-off and media day for the event on Tuesday.
“Let’s see what happens on Sept. 3,” she added.
Also part of the main card is the atomweight kickboxing collision between France’s Anissa Meksen and Spain’s Cristina Morales.
Featured in the lead card, meanwhile, is Filipino-American Jackie Buntan, who will take on Argentina’s Daniela Lopez in a strawweight muay thai bout.
It will also have veteran martial artist Mei Yamaguchi of Japan against Brazil’s Julie Mezabarba in an alternate bout for the atomweight world grand prix.
Having been a professional fighter for more than a decade now, Ms. Yamaguchi said the all-female card by ONE is a welcome development.
“I have seen a lot of things happen in martial arts throughout the years and this (Empower) is a historic event. I’m excited to be part of it.”
ONE: Empower will be broadcast live over One Sports beginning at 7:30 p.m. and over ONE’s mobile app. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo