By Kyle Encarnacion
MANILA — Denice “The Menace” Zamboanga and Stamp Fairtex are two of the best atomweight fighters in ONE Championship and part of the rising and up-and-coming women’s MMA contingent in Asia.
In a podcast interview with the South China Morning Post, former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion and current ONE Championship vice president Miesha Tate heaped praises on the women competing in the ONE Circle.
“Honestly, I think a lot of the women have yet to be discovered,” said Tate.
Zamboanga, currently the No. 1-ranked atomweight in ONE, who sits just below reigning ONE women’s atomweight world champion Angela Lee, has been on an absolute tear since joining the promotion in 2019.
The world has certainly taken notice, as Zamboanga has quickly become one of the most popular fighters in ONE. The fiery Filipina, Tate mentioned, is a talent worthy of attention.
“Denice, I know I’ve mentioned her before already, but if you haven’t watched her fight. I’m a huge fan of her. I love her tenacity. I feel like I see a little bit of Angela in her when she used to fight, like even myself. I see little bits of that in her. She’s her own woman and her own fighter. She has that something special as well, and I really think she’s going to go places,” said Tate.
“So Denice is somebody I think everybody should keep their eyes on. I think she has a very bright future.”
Zamboanga’s close friend and fellow ONE Championship athlete, Stamp Fairtex, also received nothing but kind words from Tate.
Stamp is the former ONE Atomweight Muay Thai and Kickboxing world champion who has recently dedicated herself full-time to a burgeoning MMA career.
Tate believes both Zamboanga and Stamp could perform very well in the highly-anticipated ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix, when the tournament commences in 2021. The winner, of course, will go on to face Lee for the atomweight belt.
“Stamp Fairtex, I know that she lost her kickboxing and Muay Thai titles recently, and I kind of maybe fault that a little bit to her transition to MMA. Maybe she hasn’t been able to stay as sharp in the striking, that’s to be expected. However, her MMA game is really good. It has exceeded all my expectations,” said Tate.
“When I watch her fight, she has amazing fight instincts — on the ground and in the wrestling department. She doesn’t make mistakes. She just automatically knows what to do. She’s just a good athlete, a great athlete. So I’m excited to also see what Stamp does, curious to see if she will be part of the Grand Prix. I hope so. I’d love to see her and Angela fight some day.”
Considered a legend in the combat sports industry, having competed professionally between 2007 and 2016, Tate is a pillar of women’s MMA. She brought attention to the sport with her high-profile rivalry with fellow legend Ronda Rousey.
Tate won the bantamweight belt in 2016 with a victory over Holly Holm. She surrendered the title to now current champion Amanda Nunes shortly after, and lost her next bout against Raquel Pennington which ultimately led to her retirement four years ago.
Today, she’s a full-time mother and a high-level executive in the world’s largest martial arts organization. (AI/FC/MTVN)