MMA: Korean star Ham gears up for 'very hard fight' against Denice Zamboanga

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 30 2021 04:48 PM


MANILA, Philippines -- South Korea's Seo Hee Ham doesn't know much about Denice Zamboanga just yet, but she is certain that their showdown at the ONE Atomweight Grand Prix will be a tough affair.

Ham, a former UFC competitor who has won championships in multiple promotions, will take on Zamboanga in the first round of the Grand Prix on May 28 at ONE: Empower, an all-female fight card.

For the 34-year-old Ham, it's her first fight in ONE Championship after previously competing in Road FC and Rizin. It's also an immediate test for the veteran, as the younger Zamboanga is the top-ranked contender in the atomweight division.

"To be honest, I didn't really study Denice Zamboanga that much yet," Ham said, through a translator, during a recent ONE media conference. "I'm planning to, though, I'm planning to. I will be studying her a lot."

Even before studying Zamboanga's game tape, Ham already knows that she's in for a tough night. The Filipina is unbeaten in MMA, with an 8-0 record entering their Grand Prix showdown. Zamboanga is also coming off an impressive stoppage of Watsapinya Kaewkhong in her last bout in August 2020.

"I heard from people, from common friends, that her strength is amazing, that she's very strong," Ham said.

"I'm focusing a lot on my strength and conditioning program, and I have my style that I like to use in that Circle, so I'm excited to see what's going to happen," she added.

Ham made it clear that she has her sights set on the ONE atomweight title, currently held by Angela Lee. The winner of the Grand Prix will get a shot at the champion once she returns to action after her pregnancy.

To do so, Ham will have to get past Zamboanga which she admits will be no easy task.

"I know for sure that this won't be an easy fight. Matter of fact, I think this will be a very hard fight," she said. "But I'm gonna try my best to enjoy it and have fun."

This will be Ham's first fight since December 2019, when she beat Ayaka Hamasaki for the Rizin atomweight belt.

"I never really had this kind of long layoff, which is one year and a half, so I'm a little bit concerned how I'll be competing inside there," she said. "But at the same time, my second feeling is that this is a new stage, it's a new experience for me, so I'm very excited. I'm also very nervous but mostly I'm very excited and I'm very happy."

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