MANILA, Philippines -- Filipino atomweight star Denice Zamboanga said she is ready for what should be the biggest test of her young mixed martial arts career so far.
The 24-year-old Zamboanga is one of eight women who will compete in the highly anticipated ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix. The winner of the tournament earns a shot at reigning ONE atomweight champion Angela Lee later this year, according to ONE Championship chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong.
The first round of the tournament commences at ONE: EMPOWER, which broadcasts live on May 28 from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore.
Zamboanga, who is the division's No. 1-ranked contender, is scheduled to face veteran Seo Hee Ham. With the stakes riding high, Zamboanga is determined to defeat Ham and win the tournament.
"I've been preparing hard for this fight. A lot of pain, sweat, tears, and blood went into this training camp. I'm in the best shape of my career. Physically, mentally, and spiritually, I'm ready for this fight. I'm ready to give it 100%, and do anything it takes to win," Zamboanga declared.
The young Filipina burst into the scene in December 2019 when she defeated Malaysia's Jihin "Shadow Cat" Radzuan. Zamboanga went on to beat former ONE title challenger Mei Yamaguchi in 2020, a massive upset that earned her the top spot in the divisional rankings.
She followed up that victory just a few months later, submitting Watsyapinya Kaewkhong impressively in the first round.
But Zamboanga will arguably enter the Grand Prix as the underdog against Seo, who is perceived to be the most dangerous contender in the field.
The Filipina remains confident in her preparations, however, and vowed to take the fight right to her Korean counterpart.
"I know that she is the toughest opponent of my career so far. Because of that, I'm not going easy on her. I will make sure I am the toughest opponent she will have ever faced in her career, too," Zamboanga vowed.
To prepare for the bout, Zamboanga embarked on a 12-week training camp at Marrok Force, where she trains with older brother, fellow ONE Championship fighter Drex Zamboanga.
"My team at Marrok Force has been a huge instrument to my development as a martial artist. They have helped me improve in every area imaginable. I can say with confidence that they've created a complete martial artist in me. More than anything, they continue to motivate me everyday to be the best Denice Zamboanga that I can be," she said.
Other first round matches in the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix include a battle between No. 2-ranked contender Meng Bo and Brazilian newcomer Julie "Juju" Mezabarba, a showdown between No. 4-ranked Stamp Fairtex and No. 3-ranked Alyona Rassohyna, and Itsuki "Android 18" Hirata versus Alyse "Lil Savage" Anderson.
In the main event of ONE: EMPOWER, reigning ONE Women's strawweight world champion "The Panda" Xiong Jing Nan defends her world title against No. 2-ranked strawweight contender Michelle Nicolini.
In the co-main event, six-time kickboxing and Muay Thai world champion Anissa "C18" Meksen makes her ONE Super Series debut against Martine "The Italian Queen" Michieletto.
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