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Team Lakay rising star Jenelyn Olsim is ready to go toe-to-toe with Vietnamese-American Bi Nguyen on their feet but believed her improved ground game holds the key to winning their bout at ONE: BATTLEGROUND III, a tape-delayed event from the Singapore Indoor Stadium which airs this Friday night, August 27.
In fact, she is one of those who are proving the early impression of Team Lakay fighters being just elite strike specialists isn’t true anymore.
Although the recent fights of the younger Team Lakay stars flaunted improved ground game that resulted to some submission finishes, Olsim still surprised a number of MMA fans when she recently secured a submission finish, the second of her young career, at the expense of 11-fight veteran Maíra Mazar late March.
It is because she actually initiated ground action despite her strong suit being undoubtedly the striking department, mostly credited from a background in Muay Thai.
The victory over Mazar was Olsim’s main roster debut with ONE Championship, after a short stint in ONE Warrior Series, and her fourth win in six fights.
The Baguio City native looks to continue to show improvements when she meets Nguyen.
At just 24-years of age, Olsim already possesses the mindset of a veteran mixed martial artist. The Team Lakay new generation standout already owns a great sense of self-awareness as she continues to acknowledge weaknesses and consequently add new folds to her game.
“I learned that I’m actually good [on the] ground. I can apply some things that I learned from the gym, I can really apply my ground skills,” Olsim said. “Because I hadn’t been fighting MMA [for] two years (before the Mazar fight), and I’m learning how to improve my ground skills, I’m getting comfortable with my ground techniques.”
Asked to break down the Team Lakay scouting report on Nguyen, Olsim initially started with praises of her opponent’s fighting spirit and athletic makeup. She cited Nguyen’s ability to fight to the bitter end, never giving up.
“I actually admire Bi Nguyen, personally. I like her fighting spirit and the spirit in her that she never gives up easily,” Olsim said, complimenting her future adversary.
She, however, insisted to be the superior mixed martial artist due to her well-rounded approach and would not concede any technical advantages.
“As far as I can see from reviewing her fights, she’s not used to going to the ground. She most likely [will fight] in the stand-up game. So I think her weak part is her ground game,” Olsim said. “I have watched her previous fights and she dominates with her striking technique. I think she’s most comfortable with her boxing.”
Despite her aforementioned extensive background in Muay Thai, Olsim is intent on taking the path of least resistance. In this case, that means tying up Nguyen and sending the fight to the ground before hunting for a submission.
That’s not to say Olsim isn’t planning to engage with Nguyen on the feet in order to get there.
“I’m also comfortable with my striking skills, so maybe we’ll be [fighting] more with our striking,” Olsim said. “The fans will be expecting a technical game in this fight… expect action.”
Olsim also added that improving her cardio has been a major goal for her in training camp.
With the improvements she’s made, she intends to put forward her most exciting performance to date, leaving the Circle with another victory. And while she has the utmost respect for her opponent, Olsim is ready to put that to the side for 15 minutes or less on Friday night.
“But I think I’m ready for this. I have been fighting for seven years now and I want to test my skills and my limits. So bring it on!”, she ended.
Nguyen earlier promised an abbreviated fight and plans to sink Olsim into deep waters.
Early last week, it was announced that the winner of this bout will move on to face debuting American Grace Cleveland at ONE Championship’s historic all-women’s fight card, ONE: EMPOWER, on September 3. That bout will serve as an alternate for the highly anticipated ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix.
By Armando M. Bolislis