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Ginebra legend Robert Jaworski, Sr. Once said “you make your own luck”.
This is just what Jenelyn Olsim and Team Lakay did. They positioned themselves to become available where the title fight opportunities are abundant.
The fact that Philippines was back in the running for Angela Lee’s ONE Women’s Atomweight title and it was Jenelyn Olsim who carried the cudgels for the country this time was not an accident. It was not plain coincidence either.
She may have lost to Ritu Phogat in the semifinals of the Women’s Atomweight Grand Prix during ONE: NextGen last October 29 but the opportunity to fight for the right to face the winner of the Stamp Fairtex-Julie Mezabarba was one that the Igorot fighter put herself in.
Drowned among the elation of receiving a possible title shot was a crucial move made by Olsim and Team Lakay, a couple actually if we are to start from the beginning.
Firstly was Olsim’s decision to leave Tribal Torogi for rival gym Team Lakay, paving way for her to infiltrate ONE Championship’s main roster at a quicker pace.
Then, instead of staying in a division where competition is limited, they had her move down to a stacked atomweight where many of the ONE women superstars reside and winning fights have more significant rewards.
Olsim was making a name at strawweight where an impressive victory over Maira Mazar induced the ONE rankings panel to install her as fifth top strawweight contender.
Nevertheless, Olsim and Head Coach Mark Sangiao must have noticed the obvious. Being ranked as top contender after just one fight is not good for the brand.
A closer inspection of the strawweight division rankings would also show atomweight titleholder Angela Lee ranked 3rd top contender, proving the division lack of resident talents.
So, notwithstanding the lofty status, Olsim slide down to atomweight for a chance to face ONE’s bigger name superstars like Angela Lee, Stamp Fairtex, Ham Seo Hee, Phogat and even compatriot Denice Zamboanga down the line.
It has paid huge dividends so far.
After taking out Mazar by an impressive guillotine choke induced submission on March, 2021, Olsim proceeded to take out Bi Nguyen by unanimous decision in her first match back at atomweight last August.
While she failed to end the fight early, Olsim provided the match’s highlight when her right straight found Nguyen’s chin to score a knockdown in the second round.
These two sensational victories then subsequently resulted to more than a couple opportunities for an atomweight title shot.
Olsim was granted a ticket to fight the United States’ Grace “Thai Kitten” Cleveland in one of two alternate bouts during ONE: EMPOWER on September 3 but, unfortunately, Cleveland was forced to pull out after complaining of perpetual dizziness and the fight being scrapped.
Then, she was again penciled for an alternate bout match with Malaysian grappler Jihin Radzuan during the tape-delayed Nextgen II scheduled for broadcast on November 12, 2021.
Finally, even before the bout could take place, ONE offered a proposition that Olsim and Team Lakay could not pass up, taking on Phogat on four days notice.
Of course, they were too happy to see the results of their decision and readily accepted the challenge.
Olsim actually started campaigning in ONE at atomweight.
She registered her first win under the ONE banner by outpointing Claudia Diaz during ONE: Warrior Series 3.
She then went up to strawweight and lost to Caitlin McEwen during ONE: Warrior Series 7 before landing the win against Mazar.
Despite the loss to Phogat, Olsim and Team Lakay made a right call of letting her swim among the sharks and get the chance to have a career-changing moment by becoming a fixture in one of ONE championships well-followed division.
With Olsim’s display of competitive submission and ground defense coupled with her superb striking, it would not take long for her to get ranked in the division and have more title shots in the near future.
By Armando M. Bolislis