Alyse Anderson out to win ONE Empower Grand Prix.
When atomweight contender Alyse Anderson traded in her job as an EMT for a chance at glory inside the ONE Championship circle, it was a decision she didn’t make in haste. But for the promise of a better future, getting the chance to compete in the world’s largest martial arts organization was an opportunity that was simply too good to pass up.
“I worked in the COVID unit,” Anderson said. “There was no hazard pay. There was no extra anything. If anything, there was just more added. ONE just came at such a good time for me because I had been working the COVID unit for almost a year. I’ve been working in the hospital for five years.”
Anderson is one of eight women who will join the upcoming ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix at ONE Empower. She faces Japanese fighter Itsuki Hirata in the semifinals. The winner of the tournament will go on to challenge reigning ONE Women’s Atomweight champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee for the title.
“ONE does have the biggest atomweight [division] out of all the promotions, so I’m definitely testing myself, but that’s what you have to do. If you want to be the best in the world, go against the best in the world,” Anderson said. “I’m someone new to the division, so I think, especially going against someone fans like to see, Itsuki, they should be excited to see her get a real challenge.”
Against Hirata, Anderson faces a talented and dangerous grappler. But the former Invicta FC standout believes she will do more than just hang with the Japanese athlete on the mat.
Anderson relishes the chance to make a great first impression in ONE by taking out one of the promotion’s most highly regarded female competitors.
“I’m glad I get the opportunity to derail the hype train because a lot of people see her in the finals,” she said. “I’m not some random American that ONE picked. I’m a top contender, and I deserve to be in this tournament and to be a potential contender for the belt.
She definitely has good judo. She’s good at getting people to the ground. I know that’s her background. But as far as her weaknesses, I don’t think she has the experiences I’ve had.
She’s never fought an all-around fighter like I am. I know I’m the best competition she’s had, and I don’t think she’s ever been in a fight with any adversity.”
Looking back at her journey from EMT to ONE Championship athlete, she is grateful to be able to do what she loves to do, especially since she has kept in touch with her former co-workers. Anderson counts herself fortunate to be in the position that she finds herself in.
“I still call my co-workers all the time, and we talk about it. Nothing’s changed. They’re still getting short staffed and no hazard pay to work under these awful conditions. They’re risking their lives and their family’s lives,” Anderson said.
The ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix commences at ONE: Empower, a historic all-women fight card scheduled to broadcast live on Friday, Sept. 3. Other quarterfinal matchups in the Grand Prix include Denice Zamboanga (Philippines) vs. Seo Hee Ham (South Korea), Alyona Rassohyna (Ukraine) vs. Stamp Fairtex (Thailand), and many more. The card is headlined by a showdown between reigning ONE women’s strawweight champion “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan and No. 2-ranked contender Michelle Nicolini of Brazil.