Top-ranked ONE strawweight contender Denice Zamboanga learned a huge lesson from her previous fight to not let the decision come from the judges’ scorecard.
This after Zamboanga yielded to now No. 2 fighter Seo Hee Ham in a controversial split decision loss in the first round of their women’s atomweight grand prix matchup last month.
Her consolation? Mixed martial arts fans, and even ONE CEO and founder Chatri Sityodtong, believe that Zamboanga edged Ham in their bout.
“Sinabi nila (coaching staff) na okay lang daw ‘yon, na ako naman daw ‘yong nanalo sa lahat ng mata ng tao, lahat ng nanonood. Para sa kanila ako talaga ‘yong nanalo (My coaching staff comforted me by saying I really won that fight in the eyes of many people and fans. For them, I won that fight),” Zamboanga, who suffered their first loss of her career with eight wins, told Manila Bulletin.
“Dahil sa mga sinasabi ng mga coaches ko, ng mga kuya ko [in Marrok Force], sabi nila sa akin na lesson ‘yon para sa akin na dapat talaga ‘pag ganoong laban, ‘pag ganoong kalaking event, dapat tapusin talaga [nang maaga] (They said it was also a lesson learned for me. For those grand events, I really need to finish the match as early as possible).”
While the match underwent a review, the decision was still upheld as Ham advanced to the next round of the tournament.
The South Korean veteran, however, was replaced by Julie Mezabarba after sustaining an injury during training.
Sityodtong earlier announced that Zamboanga was scheduled to face Mezabarba in an alternate bout but the plan was apparently scrapped due to Ham’s injury.
The Brazilian rookie won her respective alternate bout against seasoned Japanese fighter Mei Yamaguchi.
That said, Zamboanga remained optimistic while awaiting ONE Championship’s call, hoping to return to the Circle once more before the end of 2021.
The Filipino fighter is planning to fly back to the Philippines by the end of the year to spend the holidays with her family, which she hasn’t seen since training in Thailand for almost three years.
“Nakikita ko ‘yong mga comments nila (fans), kahit ibang fight ‘yong video. Nabasa ko ‘yong mga comments na Filipinos — kahit hindi Filipinos — namo-motivate ako na pag-igihan ko pa talaga (I saw many comments from fans. I also read comments from Filipino fans and other nationalities and that motivated me to do better next time),” said the 24-year-old Zamboanga. Kailangan talaga don’t leave it to the judges, sabi nga po ni Angela Lee (Next time, I won’t leave it to the judges’ scorecard as what Angela Lee said).”