Denice Zamboanga is set to fulfill her long-awaited dream as she challenges Stamp Fairtex for the ONE women’s atomweight title.
The five-round clash is scheduled to take place at ONE 166, emanating live from the Lusail Sports Arena in Qatar on March 1.
Zamboanga’s quest for a world title shot began when she scored a significant upset win over Mei Yamaguchi in February 2020. Company chairman Chatri Sityodtong promised her a title shot against then-champion Angela Lee then and there.
However, Lee’s pregnancy led to a sabbatical, redirecting Zamboanga’s path to the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix tournament in September 2021.
“The Menace” faced adversity in the tourney, suffering a controversial split decision loss to Ham Seo Hee in the quarterfinals.
A rematch happened in March 2022 to settle the score, but Ham still prevailed over Zamboanga— this time with a clear-cut unanimous decision.
Zamboanga exhibited her resilience by clawing her way back into title contention. She first secured a split decision win over Lin Heqin in December 2022 and then followed it up with a unanimous decision victory against Julie Mezabarba in April 2023.
As the current No. 2-ranked contender, Zamboanga has rightfully earned her place in the conversation with Stamp, who made history by becoming the first-ever ONE three-sport world champion in September 2023.
Having previously held belts in Muay Thai and kickboxing, the Thai superstar added the MMA gold to her collection by defeating Ham for the vacant strap with a third-round technical knockout.
What adds an intriguing layer to this upcoming encounter is the shared history between Zamboanga and Stamp. Both women once trained under the same roof at the Fairtex Training Center in Pattaya, Thailand as teammates. They eventually became close friends.
On numerous occasions, Zamboanga and Stamp went on record saying that they were willing to set aside their friendship for the sake of the world title.
Zamboanga won’t be the lone Filipino mixed martial artist on the card. At ONE 166, Joshua Pacio is booked to run it back with Jarred Brooks for the strawweight championship.