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Alyse Anderson aims for hot start in second ONE Championship appearance: ‘I definitely think I was too hesitant’

“I just wish I would have fought like I did in the third round for the whole fight.”

Alyse Anderson is primed and ready to begin making some waves among the 115-pound ranks of ONE Championship.

The Mason, Michigan native debuted in the promotion under about as much pressure as one could have following a layoff dating back to July 2019. In Sept. 2021, Anderson was welcomed to Singapore as part of the Atomweight Grand Prix, where the winner earned a title shot against the champion, Angela Lee. Adding to the magnitude of the opportunity, the opening round of the tournament kicked off on the first all-women’s event in promotional history, ONE: Empower, where Anderson was tasked with rising undefeated Judo sensation, Itsuki Hirata (4-0 at the time).

After a slower two rounds that saw the typically capable 105-pound competitor get out grappled, Anderson found her footing in the third frame. The American dropped Hirata on the feet but was unable to close the show late, resulting in a unanimous decision loss. Like most setbacks in mixed martial arts (MMA), the 27-year-old Anderson (5-2) only sees it making her stronger going forward.

“I definitely think I was too hesitant,” Anderson told MMAMania.com regarding her ONE debut. “Just the nerves taking a big layoff and then being on such a big stage with the pressure of the tournament and going against an undefeated fighter at the time. I think I respected her punching power too much because all my coaches the whole time warned me of her overhand right so I was pretty nervous to engage and that’s almost why I feel I engaged in the grappling because I didn’t want to which is the worst mistake ever because I was doing well until I engaged in the grappling then that’s when I got taken down even though I initiated the grappling.

“Then when I saw the third round that I let my hands go, I was actually a lot more successful so I just wish I would have fought like I did in the third round for the whole fight,” she concluded. “But it was a learning experience and I’ll take it into the next one.”

Before reaching the global stage that is ONE, Anderson gained experience inside the Invicta Fighting Championship cage as a 105-pound Atomweight. She admits that the possibility is still there for a return to that weight someday, however, she isn’t necessarily hoping to do so as it’s still an uphill climb to get bigger for 115.

Among other changes in Anderson’s career that came along with the ONE roster spot was that she now can call herself a full-time MMA fighter. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, her services were required to work in the hospital. Anderson sought her allotted weeks off in preparation for fights, and even for ONE: Empower things didn’t fully go according to plan as the event was delayed after a case increase hit Singapore in the summertime.

“Another reason I think I respected her (Hirata) so much is because it was so long preparing for her that when I got in there I’d been thinking about this for seven to eight months that we’ve been scheduled to fight,” Anderson said. “So I’ve obviously been training for her power, her overhand right, and then when I actually got hit by it, it was like, ‘I’d been nervous for eight months for this?!’”

After a decent-sized gap of time away from action, Anderson looks to get as active as possible with three fights a year being an ideal number. The 2022 campaign begins this Friday, May 20, 2022, at ONE 157 against Asha Roka.

“I haven’t really thought about it just because getting my first win with ONE under my belt will be that next [step] on the ladder,” Anderson said of how quickly she hopes to reach title contention. “I’m really trying not to look past this. Obviously, that is the end goal and long-term thinking, that’s kind of why the three fights in a year — if I can get three fights this year — I think starting out next year it could put me in title contention but yeah, just one fight at a time.”