Zamboanga clearly did enough to win that fight but two of the three judges saw it differently. It cost the Filipina a spot in the semi finals of the atomweight Grand Prix as well as her perfect professional record.
She was handed a rematch with Ham and the outcome was the same with the Korean winning convincingly although this time there was no controversy. It looks like Zamboanga, who is based long term in Thailand, is taking a well earned break:
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Zamboanga is part of the team at Marrok Force MMA in Bangkok. Her training partner, Wondergirl Jaroonsak, is set to make her MMA debut later this month and she is sure to be helping the Muay Thai star make the transition.
Having won her first eight fights Zamboanga now finds herself on a two fight losing skid. But the Grand Prix format means that nearly all the top fighters in the division find themselves in a similar situation.
Stamp Fairtex, Ritu Phogat, Itsuki Hirata, Alyse Anderson and Meng Bo are all coming off defeats leaving the division in a state of flux. Seo Hee Ham will challenge for the title next but there is very little to choose between the other contenders at atomweight.
Zamboanga remains at #3 in the rankings. The only fighters ahead of her are Ham, who fights for the belt next, and Stamp, who is coming off a loss at the hands of champion Angela Lee.
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) March 31, 2022
In the mix
Meanwhile Jihin Radzuan, who missed out on the atomweight Grand Prix, is up to #5 in the rankings having put together back to back decision wins at the expense of Mei Yamaguchi and Itsuki Hirata.
Zamboanga holds a win over Radzuan from 2019, she beat the Malaysian on her ONE Championship debut. So the Filipina remains a top contender even if she will need at least another win before being handed a title shot.
Zamboanga was very unfortunate not to challenge for the belt in 2020. She was promised a shot at Angela Lee after beating Mei Yamaguchi in what was just her second ONE Championship appearance.
Denice Zamboanga 🇵🇭 defeats Mei Yamaguchi 🇯🇵 via unanimous decision to earn a ONE Atomweight World Title shot against Angela Lee! #WeAreONE #ONEChampionship #KingOfTheJungle pic.twitter.com/CqT8LjpmgO
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) February 28, 2020
But the title shot never materialized because Lee got pregnant and ended up taking a prolonged break. Some fans in the Philippines were unhappy she didn’t vacate the belt so that Zamboanga could challenge for it.
But instead Zamboanga was entered into the Grand Prix and was unfortunate once again. She drew arguably the best fighter in the quarter final and was eliminated despite appearing to win the fight.
The 25 year old will be hoping her luck can chance in 2022. But for the time being it is good to see Zamboanga enjoying a break, she’s definitely earned it!