ONE Championship has set the time and place for the semifinals of the ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix. At ONE: NextGen, on Friday, October 29, the remaining four women will step inside the Circle to punch their ticket to the finals.
Atomweight World Grand Prix Semifinal Preview
With the prospect of challenging Angela Lee for the ONE Atomweight World Championship hanging over the tournament, the stakes are high. The margin for error is incredibly small. A fan vote has set the matchups, and both semifinal bouts look to produce sensational results.
Miss any of the action from the quarterfinals? Need a refresher?
Here is a look at both semifinal matchups and how the athletes advanced to ONE: NextGen.
Ritu Phogat vs. Itsuki Hirata
Itsuki Hirata utilized her grappling skills to get past American Alyse Anderson in the opening round, but it was not without a little bit of drama. Anderson scored a knockdown in the final fame, but the Japanese star recovered well to avoid being finished.
In the most memorable performance of the quarterfinals, Ritu Phogat survived her own bit of drama. In the first round, Meng Bo’s cracking power put Phogat on wobbly legs, but the Indian wrestling star survived and ended the first round on top. In the remaining two rounds, the Indian out-grappled Meng Bo and showed her resolve.
The results set the stage for a showcase of two entirely different grapplers. Phogat is a powerful wrestler with a controlling top game, going against Hirata, a Japanese submission ace who is active from top or bottom.
And the intriguing question heading into the contest is whose grappling style will reign supreme?
If Hirata ends up on the bottom, can she threaten Phogat? Will Phogat be more apt to keep the match standing to avoid being caught? There are many compelling ways this match can play out, and any time two top-tier athletes enter the Circle with this many unknowns, the match becomes a must-see.
Stamp Fairtex vs. Julie Mezabarba
Julie Mezabarba made a statement in her ONE debut by dominating Mei Yamaguchi in the ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix alternate bout. Although Seo Hee Ham defeated Denice Zamboanga, the South Korean was forced to withdraw, putting Mezabarba into the semifinals.
Stamp’s road to the semis began with a rematch against Alyona Rassohyna. In their first meeting, Stamp controlled most of the action before a last-second submission put the first loss on her record. Seeking redemption, Stamp edged Rassohyna in one of the most exhilarating matches of the opening round.
While Mezabarba has three rounds of ONE action under her belt, she is still new to the organization. This leaves a lot of unknowns about how she will handle a former two-sport World Champion like Stamp, and it also leaves a lot of unknowns for Stamp.
If the Brazilian upends her Thai counterpart, it would send shockwaves through the sport and announce a new atomweight star. However, as Stamp continues to eye a World Title in a third sport, she is determined to shine under the bright lights and reclaim her star power by advancing to the finals.
ONE: NextGen airs on Friday, October 29, at 8:30 a.m. EST/5:30 a.m. PST on Bleacher Report.