Seo Hee Ham will be the favourite when she fights Itsuki Hirata at ONE 163 this Friday. The Korean knows that she is expected to win and is very confident that this will be the outcome.

Ham is currently #2 in the division while her opponent is unranked. The former Rizin super atomweight champion had been expected to challenge for the belt next but doesn’t think Hirata has much chance of putting an end to her title aspirations,

“When I was studying Itsuki Hirata I didn’t see any danger. Anywhere the fight goes I will be okay.”

She was informed that a poll by Abema had 80% of respondents tipping her to beat the Japanese fighter and didn’t sound at all surprised,

“If that many people think that way don’t you think it’s correct? I think it’s correct.”

More experienced

She is much more experienced than Hirata and has also held atomweight titles with Road FC and Deep-Jewels. But the Japanese fighter has won more ONE Championship fights and Ham admits her opponent has ‘potential’,

“She does have potential, that is why she has been successful with ONE. She is a high level judoka and that’s exactly what I will be cautious about.”

While she has been made to wait for her shot at the biggest name in the atomweight division Ham is happy to have been matched with two of the promotion’s rising stars,

“I’ve been in this sport for a very long time and to compete against up and coming stars gives me the opportunity to prove to the world that I am still here at this level. I am always testing myself.”

Not an option

A few fans were unhappy that Ham was matched with Hirata instead of being handed a title shot. With Angela Lee having recently challenged for the strawweight belt she would have had to wait for the champion and that is something the Korean had no intention of doing,

“I just love to compete, I like to fight so whoever the opponent is it doesn’t matter. Angela Lee would have been best but waiting for Angela Le for a long time was not an option for me (because) I want to compete.”

If she does beat Hirata, which a lot of people clearly expect her to do, then a title shot seems like the next step for Ham. The 35 year prefers to do her talking in the cage and has not had too much to say on the subject of Angela Lee.

But once she has successfully concluded her business with Hirata the UFC veteran plans to call out the champion,

“After I win this fight I do want to call out (the champion).”