Women’s atomweight mixed martial artist Jihin “Shadow Cat” Radzuan of Malaysia admits she was disheartened at being passed over for a slot in the upcoming ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix, but says she understands ONE Championship’s decision.
The promotion announced the eight-woman tournament, which commences on Friday, 28 May at ONE: EMPOWER, with the quarterfinal round featuring a handful of exciting matchups between top contenders.
Many fans expected Jihin, as well as #5-ranked Mei Yamaguchi of Japan to be included in the bracketing, but were surprised to see their names not included at all.
“When I first saw the list come out, of course I felt a bit sad. But after looking at the fight card, I realized the reason behind that decision, and it was to have multiple countries properly represented in the tournament. That’s probably why myself and Mei [Yamaguchi] were not included,” said Jihin.
“Besides that, I understand that the fight business is also about the fans and the market value of fighters. It’s a part of it. I just need to focus on myself and work hard on my skills. I’m just trying to get better in all aspects, and if I keep winning, I’ll get my shot at the world title sooner or later. It’s just a matter of time for me.”
In the first round, undefeated #1-ranked contender Denice “The Menace” Zamboanga of the Philippines welcomes feared South Korean veteran, Seo Hee Ham, into the Circle, while highly regarded American Alyse “Lil’ Savage” Anderson faces Itsuki “Strong Heart Fighter” Hirata of Japan.
#2-ranked contender Meng Bo of China takes on Indian Wrestling Champion Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat, while former two-sport ONE World Champion and current #4-ranked contender Stamp Fairtex of Thailand squares off with #3-ranked contender Alyona Rassohyna of Russia in an epic rematch.
Jihin, who has a close eye on movement in her division, is interested to see how this tournament unfolds over the next few months.
“This Grand Prix is absolutely stacked. A few fighters are making their debut in the Circle, but have had massive experience before they joined ONE. It will be interesting to see how these brackets play out. Personally, I don’t think they earned their spots,” said Jihin.
“But hey, it’s all about market value, and I understand that. I’m not one to blame anyone, I just want to improve myself and be the best I can be.”
ONE Championship has an ongoing partnership with food delivery service, Foodpanda. The two companies are working together on a variety of initiatives and activations, aimed at bringing fans closer to their favorite Malaysian athletes. Its latest campaign, “Delighting Drivers,” looks to reach out to those who sacrifice much just to be able to deliver fresh Malaysian favorites to people all over the country.
In support of Foodpanda’s continued support and encouragement of their drivers, ONE Championship’s Malaysian stars Agilan Thani and Jihin Radzuan will be giving away 100 ONE masks to these local heroes, as a thank you for their tireless efforts in keeping Malaysians happy through these challenging times.
Jihin is doing her best to do her part in making lives easier for her countrymen, all while remaining focused on her fighting career by continuing to train hard. She believes her being passed over for the Grand Prix is not representative of her current standing in the division.
Jihin believes that as long as she keeps winning, it would be hard for ONE Championship to deny her of a shot at gold.
All the same, Jihin shared her thoughts on the upcoming tournament, and who she thinks has the best chance of taking home all the glory.
“I think Meng Bo has the best chance of winning. She has explosive power and can finish anyone. Denice [Zamboanga] has a great chance too, she just needs to come into every fight with the right game plan. She has a great team behind her, so I think that’s going to play to her advantage,” said Jihin.
“But you have to watch out for Stamp Fairtex. Stamp has shown tremendous improvement in her last few fights. It’s amazing to witness her development. She’s a force to be reckoned with, in or out of this tournament. I’m also excited to see how Alyse Anderson does. I think she’s also a great fighter.”
The ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix commences at ONE: EMPOWER, scheduled for Friday, 28 May. In the main event, reigning ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan of China will defend her World Title against #2-ranked strawweight contender Michelle Nicolini of Brazil.