Japanese standout Itsuki Hirata has some doubts about how well she could do on her feet ahead of her return to the circle on Friday night at ONE Fight Night 8 on Prime Video.
‘Android 18’ will face the toughest test of her combat sports career when she squares off with No. 2 ranked atomweight contender Ham Seo Hee. In anticipation of their showdown, Hirata has been developing her striking skills, but in an interview with ONE Championship, Hirata admitted that she’s feeling less than confident about how her stand-up game and durability can hold out:
“I think despite having a lot of training in striking, I do not have much confidence in my chin or striking. I believe that having the courage to move forward and not back down when I get hit is more important. If I back down, I believe I will receive twice the power of the strike from Ham.”
The ground game has always been Itsuki Hirata’s bread and butter, but the fast-rising atomweight recognized her need to develop her striking skills after a split-decision loss to Jihin Radzuan at ONE X last March.
Traveling to the United States to work with the Serra-Longo Fight Team in New York, Hirata bounced back in a big way, scoring a win over ‘MMA Sister’ Lin Heqin at ONE on Prime Video 1 in August.
Ham Seo Hee will undoubtedly be the greatest challenge of Hirata’s still-developing career, but if she can score a win, it will immediately thrust her towards the top of the atomweight division, priming her for a ONE world title opportunity.
Itsuki Hirata has made New York her home as she continues to develop her MMA game
During her interview with the promotion, Itsuki Hirata revealed that she has, in fact, relocated to New York to put a greater focus on developing her mixed martial arts skills:
"I’m living in New York and renting a house here, so for now, it’s New York [that is home]... I think New York is the best place for me to train because it offers opportunities in strength and conditioning, movements that are applicable to MMA, and the level of MMA and cage wrestling."
Initially, ‘Android 18’ traveled to the United States due to a lack of sparring partners and variety in those she could train alongside while in Japan. Of course, Itsuki Hirata takes great pride in representing her country and aims to bring a ONE world title back to the land of the rising sun, but in order to be the best fighter she can be, it was a necessary change.
All ONE Fight Night events are broadcast live and for free in North America via Prime Video.