Denice Zamboanga: ‘If I Beat Mei, I Will Call Out Angela Lee.‘
The Filipina rising star is confident she can show off her striking to triumph against the division’s perennial top contender next Friday, 28 February at the Singapore Indoor Stadium to get into position to challenge “Unstoppable” Angela Lee later this year.
Zamboanga admits she was caught off guard when she was offered the match less than a month before the event, but she had no problem accepting the challenge.
“I was in the Philippines when Fairtex called me about it and told me that I had that day to think about it,” she explains.
“I said okay, and took it. It was the offseason for me, spending time with my family after being away for quite a while, and it was the holidays. A few days later, I was on the plane back to get ready for training again.
“I believe that this match could be a stepping stone to get me closer to a World Title shot. If I lost, it would be against a huge contender, and if I win, the rewards could be enormous. I have everything to gain and nothing to lose, and I’m not planning to lose in any way.
“If I can beat Mei, I will call out Angela Lee.”
Yamaguchi has taken the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee to close decisions twice and solidified her spot among the leading athletes in the division with four consecutive wins since December 2018.
The Japanese athlete is certain to give Zamboanga the toughest test of her career, but the Filipina believes she can find a way to stop her rival’s winning streak.
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“I’ve watched Mei’s matches. She’s fought Jenny (Huang) twice, and I spar with Jenny a lot now that she trains here [at the Fairtex training center in Pattaya]. I feel like I can go toe-to-toe with her,” she explains.
“She’s really good on the ground, and her wrestling is superb. I need to maintain my distance and really assert my striking so that I can show a different side of my skills to everyone.
“I wasn’t really satisfied with my last performance, so I want to make up for it this time around.”
Despite her reservations about her last match – her ONE Championship debut – it was difficult not to be impressed by “The Menace” as she defeated one of the most talented athletes in her division, Jihin “Shadowcat” Radzuan.
Though the crowd in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was almost unanimously rooting for their hometown hero, Zamboanga was not fazed. She took the initiative with her striking as soon as the first bell rang and controlled most of the action on the ground.
Even when she was put in danger by Jihin’s late armbar, the undefeated atomweight kept her composure and defended well to take a unanimous decision from the judges.
Ahead of her meeting with Yamaguchi, she thinks many of the attributes that took her to victory in December will help her win in Singapore.
“I think I have the advantage in striking and my takedown defense is good,” she says.
“I think my reach will be an advantage, and I think I can also take her down. I think I will be able to defend her grappling and maintain control on top if we’re on the ground, just like what I did against Jihin.”