MANILA, Philippines -- Filipina mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Denice Zamboanga is completely focused on her upcoming match in the ONE Atomweight Grand Prix, even as a potential showdown against defending champion Angela Lee looms in the distance.
Zamboanga is one of eight women who will compete in the Grand Prix, and she has been matched up against dangerous South Korean veteran Seo Hee Ham in the quarterfinal round of the tournament that commences at ONE: EMPOWER early next month.
The winner of the Grand Prix will earn a shot at Lee and the ONE atomweight championship, but Zamboanga insists this is not something she's thinking about at the moment.
"I have no doubt Angela will be back. She's the champion for a reason and she'll be back stronger than ever," said Zamboanga, who last year made headlines for her social media feud with Lee.
Zamboanga had not been pleased that Lee retained the ONE atomweight title even while she was pregnant, especially as the Filipina had already established herself as the No. 1 contender in the division.
The two fighters have continued to fire verbal shots at each other. Lee recently said that Zamboanga is at a disadvantage against Seo in the Grand Prix, because of the South Korean fighter's experience. However, Zamboanga said she is paying Lee no mind.
"Right now in this tournament, there's a lot of work to be done," said Zamboanga. "I have a very dangerous opponent in Seo Hee Ham, and I am not looking past her."
This next fight is no doubt a very important one for Zamboanga. The 24-year-old reiterated that she is fully fixated on overcoming the odds yet again and taking care of business with Seo, before she even thinks too far ahead into the future.
"I'm not even thinking about the fight with Angela yet," Zamboanga said. "That's not even on my mind."
"I just want to prove that I am the number one contender to the title again," she added.
Of Lee's comments, Zamboanga said: "It's great that Angela is thinking of me, I am flattered and wish her well."
"But right now, I am not thinking about her at all. I am completely focused on my next fight," she stressed.
The historic all-women's fight card, ONE: Empower, is scheduled to broadcast live on Friday, September 3.
In the main event, reigning ONE women's strawweight world champion "The Panda" Xiong Jing Nan defends her world title against grappling superstar Michelle Nicolini.
Also included in the event is the highly anticipated ONE Women's Atomweight World Grand Prix, featuring eight of the best atomweights in the world competing in a single-elimination tournament to determine the rightful challenger for the atomweight throne.