ONE Championship’s debut on Amazon Prime Video will also signal the return of Itsuki Hirata. The Japanese star will meet Lin Heqin on the lead card of ONE on Prime Video 1: Moraes vs. Johnson II on Friday, August 26.
After coming out on the wrong end of a decision in her last outing, Hirata is excited to step back inside the Circle to rebuild her momentum.
She is equally as excited about showing the world her developing striking game that she feels will take her to the next level.
“I’ve been hyped to share the Circle with [Lin] because I know this matchup had been almost set up before. I’m solidifying my striking, so I think I’ll be different from what I’ve been in the past,” Hirata told ONE.
“I’m training so hard that I can handle being hit by [powerful] shots while I’m working on developing my ground and striking skills every day.”
Although she has been working on her striking and wants to show her skills on Friday, Hirata knows what her bread and butter truly is inside the Circle.
The atomweight athlete will be cautious about when and where she can flash her striking game, but Lin’s physical size will play a role in how Hirata finds her spots.
“There’s a sense of nervousness to make up for the last loss rather than to continue to win. In addition, I’m a little bit nervous about how much I can show off the work that I’ve done for this fight.”
“I’d like to finish the fight with submission while mixing it up with striking. I hope to finish early, but my opponent has a long reach and a sense of distance, so let’s see how close I can get to her.”
“Android 18” sees how the stylistic matchup will allow her to do what she does best. She knows her Chinese opponent’s ground game is developing and wants to exploit the experience difference if the action hits the mat.
Where there is weakness, there is opportunity.
“She is an all-around fighter who knows her best distance, techniques, and combinations, and I think she is confident in her striking because she has competed in kickboxing bouts in ONE,” said Hirata.
“However, if you look at her match with [Indian wrestling star] Ritu [Phogat], she was dominated on the ground and lost by points. I think this is the difference between her level of kickboxing and MMA. I know her weakness is her ground skills.”
Hirata will try to pick up another stoppage win and reenter the discussion of atomweight contenders on Friday while setting the tone for a historic night on the global stage.
ONE on Prime Video 1: Moraes vs. Johnson II airs live on Friday, August 26, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.