ONE Championship

Zamboanga bows out of Grand Prix, Buntan remains flawless

Leigh Nald Cabildo
Zamboanga bows out of Grand Prix, Buntan remains flawless

STUNNING LOSS. Denice Zamboanga eyes a rematch against Seo Hee Ham.

ONE Championship

No. 1 contender Denice Zamboanga suffers a surprising exit in the ONE Atomweight Grand Prix following a controversial split decision loss to Seo Hee Ham

Filipina fighters Denise Zamboanga and Jackie Buntan came out to brawl in the all-women card ONE Championship: Empower on Friday, September 3, at Singapore Indoor Stadium.

But No. 1 contender Zamboanga (8-1) had a surprising exit in the ONE Atomweight Grand Prix as she suffered a controversial split decision loss against veteran Seo Hee Ham (24-8).

The “Lycan Queen” did not have the most flashy game plan, but remained successful in shutting down the offense of the Korean fighter all throughout the fight.

Zamboanga banked on her wrestling and counter-punching while Ham kept headhunting in the first two rounds of the fight. The Filipina effectively neutralized the veteran fighter’s heavy strikes by aggressively shooting for takedowns.

The co-main event turned bloody in the final round after an accidental clash of heads opened up a huge cut above the right eye of Zamboanga. But despite the injury, Zamboanga remained on the hunt and took down Ham once again with a picture-perfect slam. 

Still, the judges favored the fight to Ham.

“I’m still speechless. For me, I clearly won the fight unanimously,” Zamboanga said after the fight. 

“I really did my best. They can review the fight, [Ham] didn’t do anything. I had the control, I took away her striking, I still can’t believe that decision,” Zamboanga said while trying to fight back tears.

For now, Zamboanga, who also got her first loss in her pro MMA career, is hoping for a potential rematch against Ham or a match against reigning champion Angela Lee.

Ham, on the other hand, will join Thailand’s Stamp, India’s Ritu Phogat, and Japan’s Itsuki Hirata in the semifinals of the Grand Prix. 

Meanwhile, Fil-Am fighter Jackie Buntan (23-5) cemented her status as the top contender for the vacant ONE women’s strawweight Muay Thai Title as she put up a striking clinic against Argentinian Daniela Lopez (7-4) to pick up a convincing decision victory.

Buntan, who remains unbeaten in the promotion, displayed her phenomenal speed and power to overwhelm Lopez in all three rounds. Buntan nearly ended the fight in the first round after Lopez got stunned with a solid left hook.

The Argentinian, though, miraculously survived the Filipina’s onslaught in the following rounds and even absorbed another staggering left hand from Buntan in the last minute of the bout.

“It felt amazing to put a performance like that,” Buntan said. “I wasn’t too happy with my last performance here at ONE, so I’m definitely happy with this one.”

With her victory, Buntan has won all her three bouts in ONE Super Series. The California-based fighter shut down Wondergirl Fairtex in her ONE debut before defeating Ekaterina Vanderyeva via majority decision last April.

Another Filipina fighter, Jenelyn Olsim, did not see action in ONE’s first-ever all-women card after her scheduled opponent Grace Cleveland was forced to sit out due to injury. Olsim and Cleveland were originally set to brawl in the Atomweight World Grand Prix alternate bout.

Olsim earned her spot in the Grand Prix after defeating veteran Bi Nguyen in ONE: Battlegrounds III.

Complete results
  • Women’s strawweight world championship – Xiong Jing Nan (CHN) def. Michelle Nicolini (BRA) via unanimous decision
  • Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix quarterfinal – Seo Hee Ham (KOR) def. Denice Zamboanga (PHI) via split decision
  • Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix quarterfinal – Stamp (THA) def. Aloyna Rassohyna (UKR) via split decision
  • Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix quarterfinal – Ritu Phogat (IND) def. Meng Bo (CHN) via unanimous decision
  • Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix quarterfinal – Itsuki Hirata(JPN) def. Alyse Anderson (USA) via unanimous decision
  • Women’s atomweight kickboxing – Anisa Meksen def. Cristina Morales via second-round TKO (2:27)
  • Women’s strawweight Muay Thai – Jackie Buntan (USA) def. Daniela Lopez (ARG) via unanimous decision
  • Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix alternate bout – Julie Mezabarba (BRA) def. Mei Yamaguchi (JPN) via unanimous decision

– Rappler.com

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