Denice “The Menace” Zamboanga is ready to take on all comers as she enters the historic ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix, the biggest tournament for women in the history of mixed martial arts.
Zamboanga takes on Seo Hee Ham in the first round of the tournament at ONE: Empower on May 28. The winner gets a shot at ONE Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee in the future.
Some might feel that Zamboanga, who was recently named the top contender of the division, should wait for Lee to return and claim her World Title shot. For the 24-year-old, though, there’s no better way to prove she’s the rightful contender than by winning the tourney.
“If you’re really a champion, whoever you fight, or whatever challenge you might face, you have to accept whatever it is,” Zamboanga said.
“This is the best way to prove that I really deserve the number-one ranking, and I’m really deserving to fight for the championship belt.”
When Zamboanga puts her number-one status on the line in the tournament, she’ll do so against the debuting Seo. The South Korean has made a name for herself as one of the best women athletes outside of ONE Championship.
Zamboanga acknowledges she won’t have it easy in this first-round tussle, but with good preparation, she’s confident she can overcome Seo in May.
“For me, getting Seo Hee Ham on the first match-up, I think it’s a big challenge. I think it’s the biggest challenge that I will have to face in this tournament,” Zamboanga said. “Because she’s a well-rounded fighter and she’s very good with her hands, I have to work on my striking and also on my grappling.
“She’s a very experienced fighter. She’s a southpaw, and I don’t have much experience fighting against southpaws, so I have to train against southpaw opponents.”
But that’s all the props she’s giving her opponent, as she believes that experience can only get athletes so far. Besides, the Filipina has faced opponents with much more experience than her in the past, and she’s defeated all of them.
Furthermore, she believes that if she hurdles Seo, things will get a whole lot easier for her in the later brackets.
“I really don’t focus on my opponent’s experience. I just focus on my game plan, because most of my opponents before also had a lot of experience, and I always came in as an underdog. So for this match-up, I’m not looking at the experience of her background,” Zamboanga said.
“I agree she’s the most experienced among us, but when I overcome this match-up, I think the next match-up will be easier for me.”
For Zamboanga, there’s more to this Grand Prix than getting her shot at Lee. She wants to prove her own worth to her fans, and herself.
“This is a historic World Grand Prix. This is the best event that I’ll be joining, and I think these are the best atomweight fighters in the world,” Zamboanga continued.
“Maybe I’ll consider myself one of the best too because I’m included in the Grand Prix. I’m gonna prove to them that I’m the best and I’m the real number one fighter in this division.”
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