Zamboanga returns home, faces Lin in ONE Fight Night 5

DENICE Zamboanga finally gets her much-awaited homecoming as she’s been added to ONE Fight Night 5: De Ridder vs. Malykhin on Dec. 3 at the SM Mall of Asia in Parañaque City, Manila.

Zamboanga looks to end her two fight slump and takes on Chinese Lin Heqin the first of the two ONE Championship shows in Manila.

“I’m very happy. This is very special for me and for my whole family. It will be my first time to fight here in Manila for ONE, and I’m truly honored to perform and fight in front of my countrymen,” said Zamboanga.

Even though she lost her last two contests, the 25-year-old Zamboanga is still currently rated No. 3 in the women’s atomweight division behind No. 2 rated Ham Seo Hee and No. 1 ranked Stamp Fairtex. The division’s current champion is Angela Lee.

Zamboanga was coming in hot going into 2021 after two huge wins in 2020 against atomweight contender Mei Yamaguchi and Watsapinya Kaewkhong.

Zamboanga was one of the chosen few to be included in the ONE Women’s Atomweight Grand Prix. She fought Ham in the quarterfinals but lost via a controversial split decision in a fight that most thought she won.

Zamboanga and Ham had a rematch on March 26 in Singapore. This time, Ham had a convincing performance and beat Zamboanga by unanimous decision.

Zamboanga will be fighting in the Philippines for the first time in four years. Zamboanga last fought in the Philippines in 2018, wherein she knocked out Eun Bi Cho in URCC Colossal.

“For me, nothing compares to the feeling of hearing the cheers of my fellow Filipinos in Manila,” said Zamboanga. “That’s why I’ll do my best to make sure their tickets are worth it.”

The 29-year-old Lin should be a stiff test for Zamboanga, who’s still in search for the elusive title shot.

Lin had an impressive ONE Championship debut, wherein she submitted Filipina Jomary Torres in the opening round of their fight in 2019. Lin is eager to prove that she belongs to the top tier of the atomweight division by beating one of the top contenders. Lin has fell short against the elite, losing to Ritu Phogat and Itsuki Hirata. Zamboanga’s win-loss record is 8-2, while Lin is 15-4-1.

The main event of ONE Fight Night 5 is a title defense of unbeaten ONE light heavyweight king Renier De Ridder (16-0) against interim ONE heavyweight titleholder Anatoly Malykhin (11-0).

Also in the card, ONE women’s Muay Thai atomweight champion Allycia Hellen Rodriguez (31-5) faces off with interim ONE women’s Muay Thai atomweight titlist Janet Todd (39-11) in a title unification, ONE kickboxing featherweight belt holder Superbon Singha Mawynn (113-34) defends his title against No. 1 contender Chingiz Allazov (59-5-1) and Croatian star Roberto Soldic (20-3) trades strikes with unbeaten Russian Murad Ramazanov (11-0) in a welterweight MMA bout.

Later in the evening on the same day is ONE 164, which will be headlined by a world championship fight between ONE strawweight king Joshua Pacio (20-3) against mandatory challenger Jarred Brooks (19-2). (EKA)