That’s why no one can’t fault the proud Filipina fighter for shedding her tears after suffering her first professional defeat at ONE: EMPOWER in a tough split decision loss to “Arale Chan” Seo Hee Ham in the quarterfinals of the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix on Friday at Singapore Indoor Stadium.
“For me, I clearly won the fight,” an emotional Zamboanga said in the post-event press conference. “It’s hard for me to accept the result of this fight. I’m really disappointed.”
Not only was it the first time Zamboanga’s hand wasn’t raised after the bell, it also robbed her a chance to progress in the historic all-female tournament and her best chance for a title shot against reigning ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee.
And for some, the Marrok Force MMA fighter’s sentiments are merited.
Zamboanga crafted the perfect gameplan against Ham, picking her spots in daring her lethal Korean foe to a striking bout all the while trying to turn the bout into a grappling affair.
Not even a bleeding gash above her right eye could stop her aggression, scoring a huge takedown midway through round three as she finished the fight with a flurry.
Ham did get her licks, connecting with her dangerous strikes, including a big straight left near the end of the second round.
In Zamboanga’s view, however, it was her who controlled the majority of the match and should have earned her the W.
“I had control for most of the match. I was able to keep up with her striking and was able to negate her power,” the 24-year-old said.
“I wasn’t bothered by the gash because I knew I was winning. Even though I was bloodied by an accidental headbutt, it didn’t matter to me. I was even able to get a takedown in round three and even then, I knew I was winning.”
Two of the judges, however, saw it otherwise and awarded the win to Ham, leaving Zamboanga, the no. 1-ranked contender in the women’s atomweight division, with an empty hand and a broken heart for the first time in nine fights.
Ham, meanwhile, is one of the last four fighters standing in the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix, with the fans being entrusted the matchmaker role and deciding the semifinal pairings through online votes.
Itsuki “Android 18” Hirata of Japan earlier showcased her excellence as she pulled off a unanimous decision win over Alyse “Lil’ Savage” Anderson of the United States to advance.
Also moving on is Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat of India, who made a big push and shocked no. 2-ranked Meng Bo of China with a unanimous decision victory.
And last but not the least, Stamp of Thailand got back at Alyona Rassohyna and took the split decision win in their quarterfinal matchup.
The result of the fan vote, conducted on ONE Championship’s website, will be unveiled on September 24 at ONE: REVOLUTION.
Nevertheless, it was a painful loss for Zamboanga to take, one she hopes that ONE Championship officials can look at.
“I hope that they can review our match because I clearly won that fight,” said the defiant warrior.
Asked if she’ll consider another go-round with Ham, Zamboanga unsurprisingly was quick to respond, saying, “Absolutely.”
She even went on and noted that given another crack at the always gritty Korean, she will try her best to score a finish or force a tap out — a definitive evidence who truly is the better fighter between the two of them.
“If I could do it again, I know that I should finish her from the first round and try to submit her. I should not put the results at the hands of the judges,” she said, raring to get back to the ONE Circle as soon as possible.
So pumped is Zamboanga to redeem herself from this setback that she indicated that she’s not wasting time picking herself back up.
“I’ll be back in the Circle tomorrow,” she said.
Indeed, it’s back to work for Denice.