Fiery Filipina atomweight Denice “Lycan Queen” Zamboanga is brimming with confidence ahead of her much-awaited return to action this week.
The 24-year-old mixed martial arts star from the Philippines is coming into her next bout as the #1-ranked atomweight contender, taking on an experienced veteran who is making her ONE Championship debut.
Zamboanga is scheduled to face South Korean sensation Seo Hee Ham in the first round of the highly anticipated ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix, which commences at ONE: EMPOWER this Friday night, September 3, live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Ham comes in with a solid reputation as one of the most dangerous atomweight fighters in the world, but “Lycan Queen” isn’t the least bit fazed. In fact, Zamboanga is even excited and grateful for the opportunity to face such an esteemed opponent.
“I don’t know. For me it really doesn’t matter who I am going to fight in the first round. But having Seo Hee Ham first is a great match for me because I think she is a very dangerous opponent. So if I get through her in the first round, I think the next rounds would be easier for me,” Zamboanga said at the official ONE: EMPOWER faceoffs.
“Everytime I fight, for most of my fights, I am always given very experienced fighters. I think this one is a great challenge for me.”
Zamboanga is taking on a foe many fans and observers consider the ‘dark horse’ to win the entire tournament. There’s a lot of hype surrounding Ham currently, and understandably so. Ham’s resume speaks for itself, having battled with some of the best fighters in the UFC and Road FC. The South Korean is coming into ONE Championship ranked #5 at atomweight.
These facts are not lost on Zamboanga, and the Filipina recognizes the threat Ham poses to her title ambitions.
“She [Ham] is very strong, probably the strongest on the card. In fact, she is the strongest opponent that I will be facing in my career [so far]. I believe that this will be a hard fight for both of us,” Zamboanga said, before doling out a fair warning to her opponent.
“She doesn’t know what will happen on September 3. It is a surprise, but she needs to be careful with everything. Can’t really say anything [about it] before the fight. I think fans will need to see what will happen in the Circle on Friday.”
If Zamboanga can get past Ham, she will need two more victories in the tournament to secure her position as the #1-ranked contender for the atomweight throne. ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong said that the winner of the Grand Prix will go on to challenge reigning ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee for the world title. Lee is currently training to make a comeback, and is expected to be ready to go by the end of the year.
Zamboanga knows exactly what’s at stake, and is looking to put forth her best in the tournament.
“Being in this tournament is the best thing that happened to me. I’m going to fight some of the best fighters in the world. All the female fighters are fighting to get the atomweight title. So I think I will need to win this Grand Prix to fight Angela Lee,” Zamboanga said.
ONE: EMPOWER is ONE Championship’s historic, all-female fight card featuring only women — the first for a major global martial arts organization. In the main event, reigning ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan defends her World Title against #2-ranked strawweight contender, Michelle Nicolini.