Reigning ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee will be keeping a close eye on next month’s action, with a vested interest in the upcoming ONE: EMPOWER event on 3 September.
After all, Lee is expected to face the winner of the highly anticipated ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix, which commences with its quarterfinal round at the historic event.
The tournament features eight of the world’s best atomweights all vying for a spot to become the #1 contender to Lee’s atomweight throne. But there is one matchup that has grabbed Lee’s attention, in particular — a battle between #1-ranked women’s atomweight contender Denice “Lycan Queen” Zamboanga of the Philippines, and dangerous veteran Seo Hee Ham of South Korea.
“Denice is the so-called number one contender. Seo Hee Ham is a great new addition to the ONE Championship roster and she comes with a lot of experience. By far, their matchup is the one I’m most interested in,” Lee said in a video interview with ONE Championship.
Lee figured in a heated back-and-forth through the media with Zamboanga last year, after the latter asked the former to vacate her world title due to her impending pregnancy.
Zamboanga is the #1-contender at atomweight, and was already pencilled in for a shot at the belt when CEO Chatri Sityodtong verbally announced the Filipina as next in line to challenge for Lee’s title.
Seo, on the other hand, is a well-respected veteran coming into ONE Championship. Many feel the South Korean fighter is the dark horse to win the entire tournament. Lee is inclined to share this sentiment, but also cautions against underestimating Zamboanga’s capabilities.
“I’m very excited to see Seo Hee Ham when she makes her debut in ONE. She’s definitely one of the most experienced fighters in the tournament. She’s definitely one that I’m going to be keeping my eye out for. I’m very excited to see how she matches up with Denice. That match is going to set the tone for the rest of the tournament,” Lee said.
“I would give the advantage to Seo Hee Ham because of her experience. But with that being said, at the end of the day, it is a fight. You don’t count anybody out.”
After having already given birth to daughter Ava Marie a few months ago, Lee is already on the comeback trail. As she puts in the work at the family gym in Hawaii, “Unstoppable” firmly believes she’s the champion until she isn’t. And the only way to take the belt from her is by beating her in the Circle.
The winner of the Grand Prix will get the chance to unseat the atomweight queen, but until then, the 25-year-old superstar is more than willing to remind fans who reigns supreme.
“There’s been a lot of back-and-forth talk, and I’ve seen a few of [Zamboanga’s] interviews. Honestly, I just feel like she is coming off as a little bit entitled. She’s telling everyone that she was the number one contender. Really, that’s because she beat Mei [Yamaguchi]. But honestly, besides that, she hasn’t beaten anyone,” Lee said.
“This is my division and I’ve been champion of this division since 2016. Every opponent, every contender, I’ve put them away. I think it’s been a little while since I’ve been in the cage. Maybe people forgot, but definitely I’m here to stay and I’m very excited to get back in the cage.”
ONE: EMPOWER is a historic all-women’s fight card scheduled to broadcast live on Friday, 3 September. In the main event, ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan defends her title against Michelle Nicolini.
Apart from the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix, fans can also look forward to many exciting contests, including the debut of kickboxing superstar Anissa Meksen, who faces Cristina Morales in a ONE Super Series contest.