Top women’s atomweight contender, Denice “The Menace” Zamboanga is one of the early favorites to win the upcoming ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix. After tournament bracketing was announced late last week, however, she could run into a bit of trouble in the very first round.
Zamboanga drew South Korean veteran Seo Hee Ham in the tournament quarterfinals.
Ham is easily the most experienced out of all eight women joining the tournament, having competed in promotions such as Deep, Jewels, Road FC, and the UFC. Just recently, she was the Rizin Atomweight Champion before making her move to ONE Championship.
“Ham is a very experienced fighter, the most experienced out of all of us. I’m not taking her lightly by any means. She’s held multiple world titles in different organizations, and she’s a legit, well-rounded striker,” said Zamboanga.
Zamboanga is taking her opponent very seriously, and knows exactly the kind of threat Ham presents to her. She is now in the thick of preparations for what should be the toughest test of her young career so far.
“My team and I are studying her previous fights for sure, looking for anything we can exploit. But I don’t see any weaknesses in her. She’s a complete fighter. We know she’s incredible with her hands, and she’s a southpaw. I don’t have much experience facing southpaws. Her straight punch is her most dangerous weapon,” Zamboanga added.
The ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix is set to commence at ONE: EMPOWER, an all-female fight card set for Friday, 28 May.
Aside from the Zamboanga vs. Ham bout, other quarterfinal matchups include Meng Bo vs. Ritu Phogat, Stamp Fairtex vs. (3) Alyona Rassohyna II, and Itsuki Hirata vs. Alyse Anderson. In the main event, reigning ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan of China will defend her World Title against #2-ranked strawweight contender Michelle Nicolini of Brazil.
Despite being the division’s #1-ranked contender, Zamboanga understands she is heading into this fight against Ham as a sizable underdog. But she says she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s going to be a tough challenge, no doubt. I think this is the biggest challenge I could face in this tournament, especially for a first-round matchup. But this is what I live for, to test myself against the best,” said Zamboanga.
“I didn’t get to where I am by facing easy opponents. I’m heading into this fight with the best Denice Zamboanga you’ve ever seen.”
The winner of the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix is expected to earn the right to challenge reigning ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee when the champion is ready to defend her title later this year.