Atomweights don’t get the attention they deserve in the grand scheme of the MMA world. Without divisions in big promotions like the UFC and Bellator, talent in this weight class is often overlooked. It’s a shame, because these athletes are pretty incredible.
Here are a few of the best, in no particular order:
Fighting out of Tokyo, Japan, Akaya Hamasaki began training early in life. She built a solid foundation in judo before transitioning to MMA. She enjoyed an undefeated run in the Japanese promotions, Shooto and Jewels, before signing with Invicta FC. She lost her 10th pro bout, when none other than Claudia Gadelha stopped her with strikes. The loss could barely be called a skid, however, because she went on to win her next five battles. During that time, she won the Invicta FC atomweight belt and defended it twice. In March of 2017, Hamasaki tried her hand in the strawweight division against Livia Renata Souza, losing for only the second time in her career via first roun KO. If history is any indication, Hamasaki will be back stronger than ever.
Herica Tiburcio also fights with Invicta FC, and at 21 years old was the youngest person in the promotion to win a title. She won the title at Invicta FC 10 in 2014, upsetting “The Karate Hottie” Michelle Waterson. Her reign as atomweight champion was short lived; Hamasaki snatched the belt from her during her first defense. Tiburcio fought for numerous promotions prior to joining Invicta FC, and she currently boasts a professional record of 11-4. At 25 years old, she’s barely reached her prime. Tiburcio is currently on the shelf as she is expecting her first child. She has great potential and I’m excited to find out what she does with her career.
Jinh Yu Frey
Jinh Yu Frey’s MMA career includes appearances in multiple promotions as well as an impressive run with Invicta FC. Frey turned heads when footage of her fight with Darla Harris went viral, and she continues to rise with a 6-3 record. If you need more of a reason to be impressed with her, just know that she accomplished all this while graduating from high school in three years, then earning an MBA and studying nuclear medicine. The 32-year-old atomweight standout will look to bounce back from a KO loss to Seo Hee Ham under the Road FC banner in December of 2017.
Seo Hee Ham
Another atomweight to make appearances in numerous fight promotions, Seo Hee Ham also made a few appearances in the UFC’s strawweight division. Despite being undersized for the strawweight division, Ham was always competitive– with two of her UFC fights earning FOTN honors. Not only does the South Korean have a distinguished kickboxing record, she boasts an impressive 27 professional MMA fights – 19 of which were wins. With teammates like Dong Hyun Kim to work with her, perhaps her shining resume should come at no surprise. Ham is currently the Road FC women’s atomweight champion, a title that she defended with an emphatic first round KO over the aforementioned Jinh Yu Frey in December.
Who would you add to this list?
Sources: Wikipedia, Invicta FC, One Championship