MANILA, Philippines -- ONE women's atomweight world champion Angela Lee of Singapore knows there is a long list of women who are itching to dethrone her.
The line starts with Filipina standout Denice Zamboanga, who is expected to get a shot at Lee sooner rather than later. Zamboanga is coming off an impressive win over perennial contender Mei Yamaguchi in February.
The 23-year-old Lee, who has held the women's atomweight belt since 2016, offered words of praise for Zamboanga in a recent interview posted on the ONE Championship website, noting that the Filipina is "a really good, all-around fighter."
"I think she mixes it up in the trenches pretty well, and she can pretty much play anywhere," Lee said of Zamboanga.
She also commended how Zamboanga fought Yamaguchi, particularly for how she followed their game plan to the letter en route to a unanimous decision win.
"I thought that was smart," said Lee.
"She looks like a tough girl, and one of those new breed of mixed martial arts fighters where she can mix it up and pretty much feel comfortable in any range," she added.
Zamboanga is the top-ranked contender after Lee in the women's atomweight division, and a bout between the two is on the horizon. However, there are other fighters who are also waiting for their chance, including Meng Bo and Lin Hegin.
Yamaguchi is also still in the mix as the No. 4-ranked contender, and Lee has nothing but respect for the woman who has already pushed her in two championship matches.
"She is just a veteran of the sport, she has been doing this for a long time, and she has fought for a world title and has stayed extremely relevant," said Lee.
Rounding out the top 5 is Gina Iniong of the Philippines, whom Lee also acknowledges as a tough fighter.
"She has had some ups and downs, but she has stayed relevant, and based on who she has fought most recently, I think it definitely qualifies her for being in the Top 5," she said of Iniong.
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