Luisa Morales – Philstar.com
October 6, 2021 | 10:20am
MANILA, Philippines — Denice Zamboanga said she felt shocked and sad following the news of Seo Hee Ham’s bowing out of the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix due to injury.
Despite the controversial nature of Zamboanga’s loss against Ham in the quarterfinals of the Grand Prix back in September, the 24-year-old felt no ill will against her fellow fighter.
???? BREAKING ???? Ham Seo Hee is OUT of the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix semifinals due to injury ???? Taking Ham’s place against Stamp will be Grand Prix alternate Julie Mezabarba ?????? #WeAreONE #ONEChampionship pic.twitter.com/4qcffuoeOv
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) September 29, 2021
“Na-shock ako. Syempre, na-sad din ako para kay Ham kasi sayang yung opportunity na yun,” Zamboanga told Philstar.com.
Ham’s place will be taken by Brazil’s Julie Mezabarba, who won in an alternate bout for the Grand Prix.
But Zamboanga revealed she also received an offer to fight — instead of taking Ham’s place, though, she was only given the chance to take on Mezabarba to become next in line to replace any fighter who might not be able to compete in the Grand Prix.
The Filipina declined, however, as she was still recovering from an injury she sustained in her fight against Ham.
“Shocked [din] ako kasi they offered me a fight with Julie, pero di ko tinanggap dahil dun sa cut ko. Hindi ako makakatrain ng maayos, tapos hindi pa siya fully recovered,” she said.
Zamboanga and Ham figured in an accidental headbutt in the final round of their fight in ONE: Empower.
The cut caused the bout to be stopped for a couple of minutes as the wound was tended to in Zamboanga’s corner.
However, the Filipina would be able to return to action and even score a double leg takedown against Ham.
Despite her injury, the 24-year-old admitted that if she was offered the role of replacement for Ham, she would’ve taken it no questions asked.
“If they offered me a fight against Stamp [Fairtex], I think I might’ve accepted it,” Zamboanga said.
Fairtex was supposedly Ham’s opponent before her injury.
“Kasi hindi ko na iintindihin yung risk, kasi nandun na ako sa semifinals eh, hindi siya for alternate bout… Pero ayun nga, hindi ako nakatanggap ng offer,” she said.
Moving on from controversial loss
As for her painful loss against Ham, which she vehemently protested to shortly after the fight, Zamboanga says she has let bygones be bygones now.
“Okay na ako. Medyo wala na yung pagka-emotional. Okay na, medyo tanggap ko na yung result,” she said.
The fight underwent formal review but was still upheld.
Zamboanga felt like it was a fair move to have the fight looked at again, but admitted she didn’t really expect ONE Championship to overturn the decision.
“Sakin, [it was] fair enough na ni-review talaga nila yung fight… Hindi na rin ako masyado nag-expect din na magkaron ng chance na maoverturn yung fight,” she said.
Despite how things turned out, though, Zamboanga saw a silver lining when she was able to witness the unwavering support of her fellow Filipino MMA athletes and fans.
“Grabe. Nung nalaman ko na talaga yung mga comments nila, tapos yung mga posts nila na talagang sakin yung side nila, na agree sila na ako yung nanalo, grabe. Talo ako pero feeling ko ako talaga yung nanalo. Grabe yung support nila,” said Zamboanga.
“Nawala yung pagkaemotional kasi dahil sa support ng mga Filipinos,” she added.
Now, Zamboanga is focused on recovery and getting back to training in Thailand after serving quarantine when she arrived from Singapore.
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