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Mixed Martial Arts

Denice Zamboanga relishes extra time to prep for ONE GP

Top women’s atomweight contender Denice “Lycan Queen” Zamboanga admits feeling disappointed that her bout against hard-hitting South Korean Seo Hee Ham, originally scheduled for late May at ONE: Empower, was pushed back.

Zamboanga, the division’s no. 1-ranked contender, was in the pinnacle of her training camp when it was announced that the event was postponed due to the escalating COVID-19 situation in Singapore at the time.

“As a professional, I have to continue training hard. That’s my job. So that when I show up to fight, I can give it my best,” Zamboanga said.

However, the Filipina fighter does admit the event’s postponement threw a monkey wrench into her preparations. She spoke of the difficulties in finding the motivation to continue pushing herself in the gym.

“Of course, I’m human too. I’m just like everybody else. Every day is a struggle to stay motivated, especially when we get canceled fights and postponed events,” Zamboanga added.

“It’s not easy to deal with.”

Zamboanga earned the top spot in the atomweight rankings behind back-to-back wins over highly regarded veterans Jihin Radzuan and Mei Yamaguchi. ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong announced that she was next in line to face reigning ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee in 2020.

But the Hawaii-based superstar later revealed that she was expecting, putting a damper on Zamboanga’s title hopes. ONE Championship instead announced a Grand Prix tournament. It will pit eight of the world’s top female atomweights against each other for the right to challenge Lee for the belt when she returns.

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Zamboanga drew the tough veteran, Seo, in the first round. She has been preparing for the fight since and says that while ONE: Empower being postponed was a disappointment, the extra time to get ready came as a silver lining.

“I’m still focused on the goal. It’s not an easy fight. I can tell you that much. Seo Hee Ham is a dangerous opponent,” Zamboanga said.

“Thankfully, I have more time to prepare, to sharpen my skills, and really zero in on that game plan. Our strategy is going to be key in this fight. I think every fighter is tough and should not be underestimated. This is MMA, and anything can happen in the cage. It will come down to who is better prepared to claim victory.”

ONE Championship will likely reveal a new date for the card and any changes soon, as fans eagerly await the Asian promotion’s return to events.

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