At ONE: A New Breed on August 28, Denice “The Menace” Zamboanga (8-0) seemingly punched her ticket to a shot at the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship and “Unstoppable” Angela Lee.
The undefeated Filipina burst onto the ONE scene in 2019 and has not looked back. But how did she get to the top of the heap as the #1-ranked atomweight contender? Let’s follow her path up the ranks.
After a successful stint on the regional circuits, “The Menace” made her ONE debut at ONE: Mark of Greatness in December of 2019. She stepped right into the thick of the atomweight division against Jihin “Shadow Cat” Radzuan.
The 23-year-old used her strength and power to get a unanimous decision victory in her organizational debut and make an immediate impact in the division. So much so that her second contest under the bright lights of ONE would come against Mei “V.V.” Yamaguchi.
At ONE: King of the Jungle, Yamaguchi was riding a four-bout win streak into the contest as she was seeking another crack at Lee and the gold. Instead, Zamboanga used her stand-up to pepper “V.V.” with strikes and earned a clear-cut decision nod.
That alone may have been enough to warrant a title shot for “The Menace.” However, the global pandemic shifted the schedule and put everything up in the air. Not one to wait around, Zamboanga was determined to stay active and put her top-ranked spot on the line against promotional newcomer Watsyapinya Kaewkhong.
In under 90 seconds, the Filipina showed why she is the top contender in the division.
Zamboanga earned her first stoppage in ONE with a keylock and firmly established herself as next-in-line for Lee’s title.
The Marrok Force-trained athlete still has a challenging task ahead of her. Dethroning Lee, who is undefeated at atomweight, is no easy feat. Lee has showcased improved striking with a top-notch ground game that last saw her submit ONE Strawweight World Champion “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan last October.
But it is the opportunity she relishes. With a perfect 8-0 record with three consecutive wins in ONE, Zamboanga has earned the shot. A victory would shoot her to stardom and turn the atomweight division upside down.
Expect her to continue her forward-pressure against the division’s queen, leave everything on the mat when the door finally closes, and the bell rings.
Zamboanga has forged her path to the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship.