NOT even Denice Zamboanga's late flurry could sway the judges' opinions to her favor as she bowed to Seo Hee Ham via a stunning split decision and exited the historic ONE Women's Atomweight World Grand Prix Friday at ONE: Empower at Singapore Indoor Stadium.
It was a shocking loss for the Filipina fighter, especially after her gritty showing and braved on despite a bloodied right eye after an accidental head collision in the third round.
Denice Zamboanga vs Seo Hee Ham results
Zamboanga had all the reason to believe she won, taking the fight to the ground with Ham in all three rounds, including a big takedown after the injury lull in round three.
Yet two of the judges thought otherwise, giving favor to the Koreans' exceptional defense on Zamboanga's clenches as well as her pinpoint striking.
It was a painful defeat for the no. 1-ranked Zamboanga, who incurred her first professional loss to drop to 8-1 and miss out on her golden chance to challenge the reigning ONE Women's Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee.
Seo, meanwhile, got her hands raised in her promotional debut to rise to 24-8.
She joins the three other fighters who advanced to the next round.
Stamp eked out a split decision over Alyona Rassohyna in their rematch, Itsuki Hirata narrowly scored the unanimous decision over Alyse Anderson, while Ritu Phogat shocked Meng Bo with a unanimous decision win.
Still, there's no denying that Zamboanga controlled majority of the bout, negating Ham's striking as she tried to take the fight to the ground.
Unfortunately, she will have to retool after incurring this first loss as he attempts to get another crack at Lee and the throne.