When Denice “Lycan Queen” Zamboanga enters the Circle opposite highly regarded “Arale Chan” Seo Hee Ham later this month, she will do so as the perceived underdog, despite being ranked #1 in the women’s atomweight division.
The 24-year-old is one of eight women who will participate in the highly anticipated ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix. The first round of the tournament commences at ONE: EMPOWER, which broadcasts live on Friday, 28 May from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore.
Many fans and analysts believe Seo is the ‘dark horse’ to win the entire tournament. However, Zamboanga isn’t at all fazed by the challenge that lies before her. With the help of her older brother Drex Zamboanga, and her team at Marrok Force in Bangkok, Thailand, Zamboanga is looking to score a massive upset to advance to the next round.
“My brother, my coaches, and my training partners are all confident in me. They are confident in the hard work we’ve put into this camp, and we’re ready. We’re going in there with the winning mentality,” Zamboanga said.
“It’s not going to be an easy fight for either side. But I’m determined to prove the doubters wrong and claim this victory. I trust in God, and in my hard work. I will win this fight for my friends, family, and fans back in the Philippines.”
Seo is a veteran of the cage, having competed in multiple organizations since 2007, including DEEP, Jewels, Road FC, Rizin FF, and the UFC. Sometimes referred to as “Hamderlei Silva,” fans love Seo for her high octane, aggressive style.
When bracketing for the atomweight tournament was announced just a couple of months ago, Seo was revealed as Zamboanga’s first opponent, and almost immediately, an intense training camp kicked off. Zamboanga believes she has covered all the bases, and is a hundred percent ready for anything in the Circle.
“I know she has so many weapons. She has a lot of experience. She’s a very dangerous striker and can attack in so many ways. But whatever she throws, I’ll be ready for it,” Zamboanga said.
“Me and my team have gone through so many situations. We’ve envisioned every possible way this fight can go. Whatever she decides to do in the Circle, we’ll have something prepared for her.”
Other first round matches in the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix include a battle between #2-ranked contender Meng Bo and Brazilian newcomer Julie “Juju” Mezabarba, a rematch between #4-ranked Stamp Fairtex and #3-ranked Alyona Rassohyna, and Itsuki “Android 18” Hirata versus Alyse “Lil’ Savage” Anderson.
In the main event of ONE: EMPOWER, reigning ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan defends her world title against #2-ranked strawweight contender Michelle Nicolini. In the co-main event, six-time Kickboxing and Muay Thai World Champion Anissa “C18” Meksen makes her ONE Super Series debut against Martine “The Italian Queen” Michieletto.
Zamboanga isn’t worried that she is coming into this fight as the underdog, and that fans don’t expect her to beat Seo. In fact, she’s even more motivated to prove her doubters wrong and score a major upset.
“I know people are looking at me as the underdog in this fight, and at Seo Hee Ham as the dark horse. That just fuels my drive to score this upset and make it to the end,” Zamboanga said.