MANILA, Philippines—Denice Zamboanga was the rightful challenger to Angela Lee’s ONE World atomweight title, but the champion’s lengthy absence due to pregnancy meant that a championship bout between the two had to wait.
The promotion, however, cannot let that division remain stale so ONE Championship devised the Atomweight Grand Prix, and no.1 contender Zamboanga knows that she’s holding a de facto title in the competition.
Zamboanga is fielded with seven other women in the tournament with the first fights included in the all-woman ONE: Empower card on May 28 at Singapore Indoor Stadium.
“My mindset? I’ll consider myself as one of the best because I’m the grand prix and I’m gonna prove to them that I’m the real no.1 contender in the atomweight division,” said Zamboanga Thursday in a virtual press conference.
“I think they will see a different and the best version of Denice Zamboanga.”
The 24-year-old’s first opponent is South Korea’s Seo Hee Ham, a fighter 10 years her senior and someone who has won championships in three other organizations.
Seo, whom Zamboanga said would be her toughest opponent yet, was also a UFC veteran and her unanimous decision win over Cortney Casey earned her a Fight of the Night bonus—her lone victory in the promotion.
Nevertheless, Zamboanga (6-0) is determined to come away the tournament as the victor.
“This is the best way for me to prove that I really deserve the no.1 ranking and that I deserve the championship belt,” said Zamboanga. “I’m gonna prove to them that I really deserve to be a title contender.”
“I’ll make sure that my record is perfect, being undefeated is hard but I want to keep it that way.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.