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Filipino fighters Joshua Pacio and Denice Zamboanga were among the ONE Championship talents anticipated to return in the Circle with their respective matchups.

In ONE Championship’s list, Team Lakay’s Pacio is projected to defend his title against strawweight rising star Bokang Masunyane of South Africa while Zamboanga’s fight against atomweight champion Angela Lee could still be in line before the year ends.

It would be recalled that the hype between Pacio and Masunyane started when the South African sensation called out the reigning strawweight king after knocking out Filipino Rene Catalan.

Read: Expect ‘explosive fight’ between Pacio and Masunyane, says Catalan

Though the 26-year-old Masunyane is still considered a rookie in the promotion, he has the guts to actually challenge Pacio after back-to-back wins since his debut in 2019.

Pacio, who just turned 25 years old today (Sunday), for his part has kept the strawweight belt twice with the most recent victory against former champion Alex Silva of Brazil last January to improve at 17-3 record.

Read: Team Lakay’s Pacio lands spot in ESPN’s Under-25 list of MMA fighters

Despite the projection with Masunyane, Pacio personally wants to settle an unfinished business with a possible trilogy against Japanese rival Yosuke Saruta this year.

In the women’s atomweight division, the undefeated Zamboanga, boasting five straight wins, would have to wait by at least the second half of the year before she could square off with Lee, who’s currently on a pregnancy hiatus with an arrival due in April.

The No. 1 atomweight contender is holed up in Bangkok, Thailand training under Marrok Force for the upcoming atomweight world grand prix set early this year.

Read: Denice Zamboanga hailed as one of the best fighters in ONE Championship

“Zamboanga might need to compete in the meantime to stay sharp, but the showdown seems inevitable at some point before the year is out,” wrote ONE Championship.

The ultimate winner of the grand prix has a higher chance of locking horns with Lee, a goal Zamboanga wants to accomplish before 2021 ends.

Source: Manila Bulletin (