Ham Seo-Hee will make her UFC debut against TUF contestant Joanne Calderwood on December 12, 2014 in the prelims of UFC TUF 20 Finale.
At the event, the first official UFC Female Strawweight Champion will be crowned at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. But before that even happens, the two future contenders, Ham “Hamderlei Silva” Seo-Hee and Joanne “Badmofo JoJo” Calderwood, will display what the new weight division has in store for the fans. Historically, both of these fighters will be the first females to enter the Octagon for their individual countries.
Ham Seo-Hee (15-5)
Ham Seo-Hee, South Korea’s Team MAD representative, has been fighting all of her career in Japan and most recently at home in South Korea. She has fought for the best promotions in Asia for many years, obtaining multiple titles in different organizations. Riding a six fight winning streak and fresh off a title defense in Deep Jewels, she will be making her North American debut for the biggest promotion on the planet.
The South Korean started off her career in the deep end of the pool by defeating a 21-fight veteran in Hisae Watanabe at Deep 28 back in 2007. That year, she fought three more times going .500 and even challenged Yuka Tsuji for the Smackgirl Lightweight (strawweight) title which she lost via unanimous decision. Even though she did not get her hand raised, she won a lot of fans with her tenacious effort.
The year after that, Ham entered the Smackgirl World ReMix 2008 Grand Prix, making it to the semi-final but losing to legendary submission artist Megumi Fugii by way of armbar.
Then, in 2010, the 27 year-old was picked for the Jewels Lighweight (strawweight) Queen Tournament. She made it to the finals to face Ayaka Hamasaki, however, the judges did not see it her way and gave the decision to Hamasaki.
Nevertheless, Ham won three straight the following year to get a rematch with Hamasaki for the title. This time it did not make it to the judges; it was stopped after the first round due to corner stoppage in favor of Hamasaki.
Ham then decided to drop down to featherweight (atomweight) and debuted at Jewels: 24th Ring. This contest against Naho Sugiyama was for the Jewels Featherweight Queen Championship. After previously coming up short, Ham finally picked up a title by defeated Sugiyama. Ham defended it six months later at Deep Jewels 2 against Sadae Numata, with a unanimous decision.
In 2014, Ham had two non-title fights in South Korea for Road Fighting Championship. She decisioned both fighters, Shino VanHoose and Alyona Rassohyna, in two rounds.
On November 3rd, she defended her title in Japan at Deep Jewels 6 against armbar machine Saori Ishioka. Ironically, Ham finished the fight in the second round via armbar. As a result, the day after she was signed by the UFC.
Joanne Calderwood (8-0)
Calderwood, the Scottish born fighter, will be brandishing an undefeated record coming into this contest. She started off her career in Scotland but only after three professional bouts was called up by Invicta Fighting Championship, the premier women’s MMA organization in North America, to test herself against the top talent in their strawweight division. She kept winning and eventually found herself competing for a chance at the inaugural UFC strawweight championship.
Her first real test came in her Invicta FC debut on October 6th, 2012 against undefeated Ashley Cummins. It was only her fourth fight of her career but she did not disappoint. Staying true to her Muay Thai roots, “JoJo” used a straight jab, left knee combination to finish the fight in the middle of the first round. It was a very impressive performance even notching her a Knockout of the Night bonus. Then, three months later at Invicta FC 4, she fought striker Livia Von Plettenberg. Calderwood put on a striking clinic with standing elbows and knees from the clinch leading to an easy three round unanimous victory.
In April of 2013, the 27 year-old fighter, went back to her home country to fight at Cage Warriors 53 in Glasgow. Even though her opponent, Sally Krumdiack, tested her jaw early on, Calderwood kept her composure and landed a solid uppercut that dropped Krumdiack. She finished the fight on the ground with about six more unanswered shots in the first round.
Before being called up to be a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter Season 20, she obtained her most impressive victory over the current Invicta FC strawweight champion, Katja Kankaanpaa. In this fight, Calderwood defended takedowns well and capitalized on her reach advantage to land good strikes on the feet. The first and third rounds went in favor of the Scottish fighter which led to a unanimous decision.
Then, in December of 2013, Calderwood was officially selected as the #2 ranked fighter out of the 16 contestants vying for the first ever women’s UFC strawweight strap. In the preliminary round on the show, she was pitted against #15 ranked Emily Kagan. “JoJo” won a very close decision with some crisp striking in the first and groundwork in the second. Later, in the quarterfinals, she lost in the second round to Rose Namajunas via kimura.
This bout will showcase the talent that is developing outside of the western hemisphere. Ham is the #2 atomweight in the world moving back up to her original weight class and Caldewood is the #4 strawweight in the world. Both these athletes come from a striking background with Ham being an experienced kickboxer and Calderwood a Muay Thai specialist. However, this is basically a striker versus grappler affair. Calderwood has stayed with her bread and butter for most of her young career, while Ham has transitioned throughout her career into a more ground-based fighter.
Ham’s keys to victory
For this fight, Ham needs to focus on pressure, takedowns, and submissions. Calderwood is a striker that likes to keep her distance and throw kicks and that long jab. The South Korean has to keep going forward to put the Scottish fighter on her heels. Although Ham will get hit with counters, most of them will not have anything on them because Calderwood will be backpedaling.
Once, Ham gets in tight she can go for takedowns constantly. She should not shoot straight for the legs but instead clinch with double under hooks and then slide down to the legs for the takedown. The reason for this is that Calderwood loves to throw knees and they are devastating. It is imperative that Ham continuously attacks with her wrestling to tire out her opponent. Since her weight cut will be a piece of cake compared to her recent fights, going three rounds at that pace should not be a problem.
When the fight gets to the ground, Ham will enter the area in which she is most dominant. Getting to mount or half guard will allow her to land some decent ground and pound. From those positions, she needs to attempt a lot of submissions. Calderwood showed some weaknesses in her ground game and does not have a lot of fight experience defending submissions.
Calderwood’s keys to victory
The keys to winning this fight for Calderwood are foot work, clinch work, and takedown defense. Since every fight and round starts on the feet, she will have the advantage from the opening bell. The 27-year old Scot is taller and has a much longer reach than her counterpart so this will be huge for her. When Ham rushes in, Calderwood has to move side to side or she will be taken down by the South Korean. If she does a good job with her foot work then she can start to throw that jab to establish her range. Once that happens, she will begin her assault with kicks and knees.
However, if Ham does get in close and clinches with her, she can lock in the Thai plum and throw knees to the body and head. Also, Calderwood has lethal standing elbows from that position that she throws with relative ease. Just in case she cannot get anything from the clinch, she has to get out by sliding to the side with her foot work and getting back to the center of the Octagon.
The last aspect and probably the most vital is takedown defense. On The Ultimate Fighter show, she did show some improvements on the ground but Ham is an animal in that department. Therefore, she would want to stay off the mat as much as possible. The only way to do that is to threaten with knees but be ready to sprawl constantly and scramble to get back to the feet.