‘No Time For Doubts’ – Why Noelle Grandjean Jumped At Late-Notice Opportunity Against Denice Zamboanga

Chihiro Sawada Noelle Grandjean ONE Fight Night 22 57

Noelle “Lil’ Monkey” Grandjean didn’t think twice about accepting a late-notice fight against her former teammate Denice “The Menace” Zamboanga at ONE 167: Tawanchai vs. Nattawut II on Prime Video.

Set to go down in U.S. primetime on June 7 from the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand, that fight will be Grandjean’s chance to rocket up ONE’s stacked atomweight MMA ranks.

Zamboanga is currently the division’s #2-ranked contender and was originally slated to challenge Thai megastar Stamp Fairtex for the ONE Women’s Atomweight MMA World Title in the main event. But when Stamp was forced to withdraw due to injury, “Lil’ Monkey” stepped up on just a couple of weeks’ notice to battle the dangerous Filipina.

A talented judoka with a knack for throwing down on the feet, Grandjean certainly possesses championship-caliber skills but has struggled to find consistency in ONE, going 2-2 across four action-packed bouts.

The French-Thai athlete told onefc.com that the chance to face the would-be World Title challenger represents a career-changing occasion – and one that came at just the right time:

“Honestly, I just think it’s a big opportunity, and I know a lot of people would love to be in my place. So I just realized I need to take this opportunity.

“Also, this opportunity also came at a moment I was having doubts about my career, and this was when I got the call. I was thinking this is where the universe wants me to go, and there’s no time for doubts and questioning. I think it’s going to be a fun fight.”

While she’s always in the gym, Grandjean has stepped up her preparations for Zamboanga in this abbreviated training camp.

The 28-year-old will enter the contest following a hard-fought decision loss to undefeated Japanese contender Chihiro Sawada and says that for this fight, she’s determined to relax and find her groove:

“It’s just intense training all the time. I’m also focused on having fun. This is what I lost in my last fight – the fun part. It’s important to get the fun side back. I would love to do something spectacular in there.”

Of course, Grandjean wants to do much more than just have fun – she wants the victory on June 7.

She knows that a win over the next woman to challenge for the gold would catapult her into the World Title picture.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that “Lil’ Monkey” was happy to accept the matchup on short notice:

“If I win this fight, I would like to have some time off and breathe. I have been in survival mode for quite a bit. After that, of course, fighting for the belt has always been the goal.

“Denice is a top contender. If I get a win against Denice, it will definitely propel me to the belt. It’s a big opportunity, so I took it.”

Grandjean Will Put Friendship With Zamboanga Aside

Noelle Grandjean will be battling a familiar face when she steps into the Circle against Denice Zamboanga.

That’s because – just like Stamp and Zamboanga – the pair previously honed their craft together at the famed Fairtex Training Center in Pattaya, Thailand.

Grandjean explained:

“It’s also sad to hear that Stamp is out. I was actually looking forward to that fight as well. But you know, accidents happen. I think it’s nice because it’s also actually the same story. I’m part Thai. We’re former teammates as well. It’s a bit of the same story, but different fighting styles.”

Since their time training together, “Lil’ Monkey” and “The Menace” have gone their separate ways but have remained on friendly terms.

That relationship will go out the window on June 7 and can pick back up, Grandjean says, once the battle is finished:

“Of course, we don’t want to punch each other’s faces. But at the end of the day, we have the same goal. That’s what we have to do. After the fight, we can eat donuts together.”

Now training at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket, Grandjean has significantly refined her game, evolving from a judo and grappling specialist to a well-rounded mixed martial artist with finishing skills in all areas.

Ahead of ONE 167, she believes Zamboanga will be in for a surprise:

“I think I might be one of the athletes who has improved their game the most because I started [MMA] a bit late.

“I trained with her when I was really starting MMA, so my improvement has been huge since then. I’ve fought different styles and in different countries. So I guess she will notice that on fight night.”

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