Nicknamed “The Menace Fairtex”, Denice Zamboanga is ready to make her debut in ONE Championship this Friday night. The undefeated 22-year-old Filipina is confident of victory against her toughest opponent to date.
Zamboanga is scheduled to face Malaysian Wushu World Champion Jihin “Shadow Cat” Radzuan in front of the latter’s hometown crowd at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur. The two lock horns in a three-round atomweight contest at ONE: MARK OF GREATNESS.
Zamboanga began her career influenced by her older brother Drex Zamboanga, who is a world champion in regional Philippine martial arts promotion. She began training under her brother’s guidance, but soon craved for more opportunities to further her skills.
That’s when she decided to move her training camp to the prestigious Fairtex Training Center in Pattaya, Thailand, where she now trains alongside some of the best martial arts talent in the world such as two-sport ONE World Champion Stamp Fairtex, and Thai legend Yodsanklai.
“I feel like I’ve improved, and I can see changes in my body. I feel more confident now because I have high-level sparring partners and coaches here,” she says.
“I think my striking has improved a lot. My wrestling also improved because we have a coach who’s a wrestling champion, and a jiu-jitsu black belt and champion.”
Despite a perfect record of 2-0, Zamboanga knows she still has a lot to prove. But she is more than willing to meet the challenge head-on.
“When I was just 20 years old, I was already being contacted to compete here, but I didn’t have enough training and experience then,” she admits.
“Now, I feel like I’m really ready for this.”
Radzuan will no doubt be Zamboanga’s toughest test to date. And she’s prepared well, doing her homework on the ONE Championship veteran.
“She’s a champion in Muay Thai, a champion in jiu-jitsu, and a purple belt at that as well. However, I think I can match up to her through wrestling. She’s very aggressive, so it is important to neutralize that aggression,” said Zamboanga.
“I also learned some things about her because she already faced Jenny Huang, who I get to train with here sometimes. She’s a purple belt in jiu-jitsu, and she almost had [Jihin] in a triangle. I think my wrestling and jiu-jitsu, even if I’m just a blue belt, will pose a challenge for her.”
Zamboanga feels that the route to victory will be taking her opponent to the ground. But she is still confident in going go toe-to-toe with the MIMMA Women’s Champion if the bout stays on the feet.
“I feel like we are evenly matched, and I really want to test her striking,” she adds.
“I think she is really confident with her striking, and she even called out Stamp for a match. I guess before she gets that, she has to go through me first.”