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Denice Zamboanga: The Sacrifices of Being a Fighter

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Filipino MMA fighter Denice “The Menace” Zamboanga is the #1-ranked women’s atomweight in ONE Championship. She’s undoubtedly one of the best fighters in the world.

 

But she didn’t get to where she is in her career without a bit of sacrifice.

Being currently based in Bangkok, Thailand, where she has stayed since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, the 24-year-old says she makes huge sacrifices in order to focus on her training. Not being able to see her family for over a year, and doing her best to remain disciplined in training camp -- “It’s all part of the game,” says Zamboanga.

Zamboanga fights out of Marrok Force with older brother Drex and their friend Fritz Biagtan. Together, they’re preparing Zamboanga for her May date with feared South Korean veteran Seo Hee Ham.

The two women warriors are set to meet in the quarterfinal round of the highly-anticipated ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix, which commences at ONE: EMPOWER, a historic all-female fight card scheduled for Friday, 28 May.

Zamboanga details some of the sacrifices she has had to make for her intense training camps.

“During training camp, it’s important to be very disciplined. It’s not like a normal diet, where you just sacrifice a little here and there. We have to be very strict with what we eat. We are contractually obligated to make a certain weight, and we have to hit that goal weight while keeping our strength, speed, stamina, and so on,” says Zamboanga.

“It goes without saying that I have to stay away from junk food. Sometimes it gets really hard. Everyone struggles with it. People who follow me on social media can see my love for sweets like donuts, milk tea, and desserts. I have a sweet tooth. But I guess the dish I miss the most is my mom’s Nilagang Baka (boiled beef stew). That’s the ultimate comfort food.”

“Instead, I try to load up on more lean protein like chicken and beef. I feel like that really gives me a lot of strength, especially gains after a tough workout. I also love salmon, which gives you that good omega 3,” Zamboanga added.

But aside from the dietary requirements of training camp, Zamboanga also has to deal with emotional stress, particularly in being thousands of miles away from her family back home in the Philippines.

Zamboanga hopes she can achieve her goals this year, and return home to celebrate.

“I’ve been away from the Philippines for so long and I really miss my family. Having my brother here with me makes it easier, but we both miss our family so much,” says Zamboanga.

“It’s really hard to be away from family. Everytime I see them when we do our video calls, or when I see them post photos on social, I miss them even more. But I’m very committed to my career. I want to make them proud. Right now, I have such a huge opportunity in front of me to win this tournament. I’ll try my best to win the Grand Prix title and then the atomweight belt this year, so I can spend the holidays with my family and friends.”

ONE Championship returns on Wednesday, April 7 (Thursday, April 8 PH time) with “ONE on TNT”, the first installment of a four-part event series broadcast on US prime time via B/R Live and TNT. The main event features a flyweight showdown between reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes and ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Champion Demetrious Johnson. In the co-main event, multiple-time world champion Eddie Alvarez takes on #1-ranked lightweight contender Iuri Lapicus.

Published : March 30, 2021