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The Sacrifices Denice Zamboanga Made To Become The Best

Denice “The Menace Fairtex” Zamboanga is thrilled to finally make her ONE Championship debut.

This coming Friday, 6 December, the undefeated Filipina will meet local hero Jihin “Shadow Cat” Radzuan at ONE: MARK OF GREATNESS.

Zamboanga will step onto her opponent’s turf in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for this women’s atomweight mixed martial arts clash, but she is fearless and ready to upset the home favorite.

Before the 22-year-old enters the Axiata Arena, learn about the sacrifices she had to make in order to reach this point in her career.

A Passion Ignited

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Zamboanga was born and raised in Quezon City, Philippines, and her older brother, Drex, taught her and her three sisters the art of self-defense. 

Drex is a karate black belt and champion who transitioned to mixed martial arts in 2013. Since making his debut, he has competed in Japan, South Korea, and his native Philippines.

“He told me that it would help me defend myself, so I said I’ll try,” she offers.

When Zamboanga was 17 years old, she started training in karate and proved to be quite adept to the martial art.

“I competed in some competitions in karate and kept winning,” she continues.

“In my last fight in karate, I lost by knockout – I got kicked in the face and lost consciousness. After that, I told myself that I will never lose a fight ever again.”

Zamboanga would live up to those words in her next martial arts career move.

A Delicate Balancing Act

The Philippines' Denice Zamboanga kicks the heavy bag at the Fairtex Training Center in Pattaya

In 2017, Zamboanga’s brother received a call from a local promoter asking if he knew a girl who was willing to engage in a mixed martial arts contest.

Drex immediately turned to his little sister.

“He told me to do it, and that he would train me,” she recalls.

“When my brother first started training me for mixed martial arts, we did it on the side of our house. Imagine, we did that for four months! We just had a punching bag and rolled there. It was just the two of us, and we would even wrestle there from time to time.” 

“The Menace Fairtex,” as Zamboanga would later be called, won her pro debut in January 2017 via knockout in 44 seconds.

As she was building up her martial arts resume, the Filipina had to find a perfect balancing act between training and her studies.

Zamboanga was so enthralled with her new martial arts career path that she abandoned her childhood dreams of becoming a doctor to pursue an Information Technology degree from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

“I thought that becoming a doctor would be very complicated, so I took IT instead —  that way, I could study and still train martial arts,” she explains. “I couldn’t do the same if I tried to become a doctor.”

After earning her degree, Zamboanga found a job in a government agency – and later, in a non-government organization – and earned a regular paycheck.

However, her thirst for competition only grew stronger.

Taking The Leap

Zamboanga found herself at a crossroads.

The Filipina kept stacking up victories in mixed martial arts competition, but she wanted to focus more on her combat sports goals.

Ultimately, she was forced to make a decision.

“It took me months to contemplate because I was earning enough with my regular job and the workload wasn’t too heavy, so I had time to train when I wanted,” she says.

“However, I really found joy in martial arts. I knew that I couldn’t compete in bigger promotions if I kept my job because I wouldn’t have enough time to be great in both.”

With the blessing of her parents and her brother, Zamboanga took a chance on herself.

In June 2019, she left her job and relocated to Pattaya, Thailand to train full-time at the Fairtex Training Center alongside the likes of two-sport ONE World Champion Stamp Fairtex.

Though she is now pursuing her passion, the Filipina had to sacrifice time with her loved ones and the comforts of home in order to have a shot at achieving her goals.

“I still get sad sometimes because I’m away from home and my family, and I really miss my dog,” she confesses.

“However, I understand that to be stronger, there are sacrifices that I need to make. I really don’t want to compete with half-hearted preparation.”

A High Standard Of Excellence

Philippine mixed martial arts Denice Zamboanga trains at the Fairtex Training Center in Pattaya

Zamboanga’s desire to constantly improve has helped her evolve as a martial artist.

She has competed in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments and earned several gold medals, as well as her blue belt. Also, after joining the Fairtex squad, she competed in her first couple of Muay Thai bouts and won.

The Filipina has continued to round out her game, and it shows in her mixed martial arts career. She is a perfect 5-0 as a professional, with two victories coming by way of knockout and another pair of wins coming by way of submission.

On Friday, she will attempt to keep her spotless record intact when she meets Jihin in her promotional debut at ONE: MARK OF GREATNESS.

For “The Menace Fairtex,” this moment has been a long time coming.

“When I was just 20 years old, I was already being contacted to compete here, but I didn’t have enough training and experience then. Now, I feel like I’m really ready for this,” she states.

“I want to leave a mark in my very first fight [with ONE]. I want fans to leave the arena remembering my name, and defeating the hometown superstar could probably help me do that.

“I understand that Jihin is a top contender in the division, so if I get a win, I would love to test myself with other top contenders to pave my road to a World Title.”

Read more: Jihin Radzuan Predicts Quick Finish Against Denice Zamboanga

Kuala Lumpur | 6 December | ONE: MARK OF GREATNESS | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onemarkgreatness19 | Shop official merchandise: bit.ly/ONECShop