Audacious really has been the move for Drex “T-Rex” Zamboanga, jumping two weight divisions up from flyweight to now lightweight.
Yet as risky as the leap is, the Filipino Mixed Martial Arts Champion has always considered himself as one who is willing to go out of his comfort zone and this move is no different.
“I just want to test myself at lightweight first,” said Zamboanga, who will take on Rahul “The Kerala Krusher” Raju at ONE: FULL CIRCLE this 25 February at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
It’s a brave endeavor for Zamboanga to take on, yet if it leads to bigger opportunities, could you really blame him for shooting his shot?
“If ONE gives me more opportunities to compete in the lightweight division, then that’s fine by me. Also, how many Filipino lightweights are there in ONE? So that’s another reason for my move,” he said in an interview with ONE Championship as he joins the legendary Eduard “Landslide” Folayang at the 77 kg weight class.
“There’s only one Filipino competing in lightweight and by moving here, I feel like it’s opening another opportunity for Filipinos to become a World Champion, because that’s my goal, to win a World Championship at lightweight.”
This will be Zamboanga’s first fight since August 2020’s ONE: A NEW BREED where he made Detchadin “Phetsingkorn” Sorsirisuphathin tap out to a rear naked choke in the second round of their fight.
Since then, a lot has changed and his conditioning coach at Marrok Force MMA Gym in Bangkok felt that Zamboanga may have a future competing in a division two rungs higher from the lightweight class he has been used to.
“I felt like being at flyweight is unhealthy for me. At the same time, it’s risky. I’m a big man, I’m 5-foot-11 and at flyweight, I can’t maximize my strength in matches,” he said. “Most of my fights came at 61 kg before, and it has always been doable, but my conditioning coach suggested that I move to a higher weight class.”
Of course, shifts like these also require a lot of adjustments, and Zamboanga understands that he also has to put himself in a position where he could stand toe-to-toe with the bigger and more muscular foes in the frame of Timofey Nastyukhin and “Super” Sage Northcutt.
“That’s the most challenging part for me. This is the first time I’ll be stepping in this weight class. I don’t have the experience yet in facing a legitimate lightweight in an official match, so that’s one thing I have to look out for,” he said.
“I’m still feeling it to be honest but I don’t think I slowed down. I also feel stronger. The more I add weight, the more I also feel that I add strength.”
What better way for Zamboanga to show just that against someone like Raju, as he stated, “I worked heavily on my ground game knowing that Rahul is a very good wrestler. But I’m just focused on being a well-rounded fighter for this match.”