ONE Championship: Zamboanga ‘Not an Underdog,’ Marrok Force MMA Director says

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It’s no secret that a lot of fans and analysts believe South Korean veteran “Arale Chan” Seo Hee Ham is the odds-on favorite to beat #1-ranked contender Denice “Lycan Queen” Zamboanga and move on to win the whole ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix.

After all, Seo has been one of the most feared fighters in the division for more than a decade, having terrorized opponents in her days competing in DEEP, Jewels, Road FC, Rizin FF, and the UFC.

But when Zamboanga and Seo meet in the Circle this 28 May at ONE: EMPOWER, one of the Filipina’s coaches at Marrok Force in Bangkok believes fans will be shocked and in awe with how she will take home the victory and score a massive upset.

Denice Zamboanga
Denice Zamboanga

“I’ve been working with Denice everyday and she is so hungry and motivated to win this fight. I can feel the excitement and confidence in her. This is a great fight and I believe fans will be very happy to watch it,” said William Aranguiz, Director for Mixed Martial Arts at Marrok Force in Bangkok.

“We developed a very robust training camp for her, designed with everything she needs to beat Seo Hee Ham. Our entire coaching staff has complete confidence that she will defeat Seo and move on to the next round.”

Aranguiz is a former Chilean mixed martial arts fighter who now guides the talent at Marrok Force, including Zamboanga and her older brother, fellow ONE Championship talent, Drex. Aranguiz has been impressed by Zamboanga’s work ethic since joining the gym last year, and believes she possesses the right mindset required to reach immense success.

When her bout against Seo was announced a while back, Aranguiz says they immediately went to work. Now they are ready to see the fruits of their labor and take out a highly regarded foe.

“It was a long and hard 12 weeks of training since we got that call to face the Korean, and Denice has made huge strides as a martial artist. I’m personally excited to witness it all come together on fight night,” Aranguiz said.

“Denice is just a different fighter right now. We’ve really transformed her into an absolute beast. She is much more controlled now, and we’ve tightened up her game a lot. Her boxing and wrestling have improved tremendously.”

Aranguiz understands why fans are picking Seo to win. Seo does have more experience than Zamboanga, and is the more proven talent. However, the Chilean star also feels fans will be surprised with how Zamboanga will be able to handle the South Korean puncher, with all the tools they have worked on in camp.

“I know a lot of fans are saying Seo Hee Ham is the favorite to win this, but we feel differently,” Aranguiz said.

“I just don’t see Denice as being the underdog. I know Denice doesn’t feel that way either. Denice is one of the best fighters in the world in the atomweight division, bar none. And now is her time to shine. She is the number one contender for a reason.”

In the main event of ONE: EMPOWER, reigning ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan defends her world title against #2-ranked strawweight contender Michelle Nicolini. In the co-main event, six-time Kickboxing and Muay Thai World Champion Anissa “C18” Meksen makes her ONE Super Series debut against Martine “The Italian Queen” Michieletto.

Other first round matches in the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix include a battle between #2-ranked contender Meng Bo and Brazilian newcomer Julie “Juju” Mezabarba, a rematch between #4-ranked Stamp Fairtex and #3-ranked Alyona Rassohyna, and Itsuki “Android 18” Hirata versus Alyse “Lil’ Savage” Anderson.

Aranguiz is confident Zamboanga will deal Seo a loss in her first fight in ONE Championship.

“Yes, she is a veteran in the fighting game, and of course, she has loads of experience. But she’s never faced an opponent like Denice, and I believe Denice has all the tools to beat her. We’ll be right behind her to support her,” Aranguiz said.

“Denice is going to shock the world on May 28.”