Denice Zamboanga hopes to string together a few good wins and get closer to the ONE Atomweight title.
To do that, the number 3-ranked contender has to hurdle a dangerous foe in Julie Mezabarba when they cross paths in a three-round MMA bout at ONE Fight Night 9: Nong-O vs. Haggerty on April 22 inside Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.
“It’s always a good feeling when you get to return to ONE Championship. Sure there are always nerves, but I’m more excited,” Zamboanga said.
“This is such an important fight for me because I want to hold onto this third spot in the atomweight division, and one day, God-willing, I’ll be back there on top and getting a world title shot.”
It’s also a homecoming of sorts for Zamboanga, at least in relation to her journey in ONE Championship.
Before moving back to the Philippines late last year to form T-Rex MMA with her brother Drex, Zamboanga lived in Thailand from 2019 to 2022. There, she trained at Fairtex Gym in the early goings of her career and then moved to Marrok Force MMA.
Though she spent a considerable amount of time training in the country, she never got the chance to compete inside the historic Lumpinee Boxing Stadium – a venue that has produced some legendary Thai strikers.
“This is special because I’ll be back in Thailand. For sure I’ll see a lot of familiar places and friends who are in Thailand who will come out and support me,” she said.
“Of course, it’s always an honor competing in one of those famous and respected stadiums when it comes to combat sports all over the world.”
She’ll have to pull out all stops, though, if she wants to hurdle Mezabarba, who’s hungry for a victory.
Though Mezabarba lost her last two bouts, they ended by two close decisions against top competitors like Stamp Fairtex and Team Lakay’s Jenelyn Olsim.
That’s why Zamboanga is working extensively for this, as she knows the Brazilian is someone she can’t take lightly.
“If there’s one thing that I have to watch out for against Julie Mezabarba, it’s her raw strength, her jiu-jitsu, and, of course, her heavy strikes. I have to look out for those,” she said.
While she didn’t give a definitive answer on how she plans to win, Zamboanga is confident that when the going gets tough, she’ll have the resolve to get that crucial victory.
“I think my main advantage would be my heart. We all know that Filipino fighting spirit. We’ll fight ‘til the end, and we won’t allow ourselves to lose,” she said.
“The prediction is a victory, God-willing!”