Filipino No. 1 contender Denice Zamboanga has one personal mission in mind when she enters the Circle against South Korean veteran Seo Hee Ham in the inaugural world atomweight grand prix on May 28.
As part of the historic all-female card in ONE: Empower, Zamboanga said fans should expect the “best version” of herself in the hopes of proving doubters wrong.
“I think this is the best way for me to prove that I really deserve the number one ranking and really deserve to fight for the championship belt,” Zamboanga told sportswriters Thursday during the ONE: Empower Virtual Media Day.
The undefeated Zamboanga has changed her tune upon the announcement of the tournament after having a controversial exchange of words with current champion Angela Lee, who is due to give birth in April.
For Zamboanga, there is no better way to claim the title shot by squaring off with the best atomweights as the ultimate winner gets the chance to lock horns with Lee in November.
“For me here, if you’re really a champion, whoever you are, whatever challenge you might face. We will accept whatever it is,” said Zamboanga, who holds an 8-0 record, including three straight wins in ONE Championship since her December 2019 debut.
Against Seo, Zamboanga will be facing a seasoned mixed martial artist despite being a newcomer in the Singapore-based promotion.
The 34-year-old Seo, who holds a 23-8 record, is also one of the favorites to win the tournament. She used to compete in UFC Fight Night, winning once in three bouts and was Rizin Fighting Federation’s atomweight queen before joining ONE.
Zamboanga, however, isn’t fazed at all but admitted that this will be her “biggest challenge so far.”
Used to being the underdog, the Marrok Force fighter rose to the occasion and captured the No. 1 spot by taking down the likes of Watsapinya Kaewkhong of Thailand, Mei Yamaguchi of Japan, and Jihin Radzuan of Malaysia.