At ONE 163 on November 19, Itsuki Hirata will battle against the top-ranked and dangerous Ham Seo Hee. With a win, the 23-year-old “Android 18” would move into the top five and be nearing a shot at the throne against the atomweight queen Angela Lee. The ONE Championship women’s atomweight weight class is a competitive division where Hirata trying to make a name for herself.
“Android 18” had spent her life in Judo and was aiming for the Olympic team until an injury changed her career path. Since joining MMA, and making her professional debut in 2019, she has put together a record of 6-1. At ONE 163, Itsuki Hirata will face the toughest test of her career against the top 3 ranked Ham. This South Korean fighter has held world titles in Jewels, ROAD FC, and Rizin.
Ahead of her ONE 163 showdown, Timothy Wheaton of MMA Sucka was able to get an exclusive interview with the Japanese-born judo-based athlete Itsuki Hirata.
Exclusive Interview with Itsuki Hirata ahead of ONE 163
Congratulations on your win against Lin Heqin! How did you feel about this fight and your performance?
I’ve trained striking for that match because I knew Lin is good striker. Instead of attacking the ground game, I chose to attack standing at the final round. I think that right was decision. I managed to switch my game plan during the fight, which I really believe I improved controlling myself. I was able to make the choice to attack without fear of losing until the last 30 seconds.
You have an upcoming fight at ONE 163 against the veteran Ham Seo Hee. What’s the game plan coming in?
My opponent is a striker so I will much more focused on wrestling training. That’s the key point.
How do you see a matchup between yourself and Angela Lee playing out?
I can’t imagine how the 5 min 5 rounds fight will be. It’s almost a total of 30 mins fight. I need much more hard training, for 5 round game for sure. I think Angela has good grappling skills so I would like to use my striking skills then.
What about yourself vs Stamp Fairtex?
She has a devastating striking skill, and I would like to use my grappling skills.
You’re not a major trash-talker, do you see most fights as business as usual or does this have to do with having a base in martial arts?
I see both sides. But my fight will be going to be on PPV card, so I feel like much more business side for this time. Of course, I don’t forget about winning. Many fans pay attention to our fight, I think this is the reason why my next fight will be on PPV.
You switched from training judo to MMA, in the gym, is there a difference in attitude or philosophy?
When I was training Judo, there were quite a strict rules and culture. No makeup, no tattoo, no nails. Also, if I win the fight then scream out, my coach scolds me. (because even though I win, I still need to show my respect to the opponent so I cannot be too happy) Of course, no entrance music too. It’s very classic and different from MMA or ONE.
You’ve explained that you want to work in Martial Arts in the future particularly with women and children, can you tell us more about this?
Yes, I still have the same thoughts. Women are supportive of strong women (Always look up to strong woman). There is always a longing to be a strong woman.
With your experience there are people who now look up to you as an inspiration, what advice would you give to these people?
No matter how weak they say I am, I promise to resist and show them how strong I am. And prove I am the best.
Knowing that you are an inspiration to women around the world, what does that mean to you?
I still I haven’t done many things to make people inspired, but I always appreciate a cheerful message from the fans who are very encouraging to me before the fight. It means a lot.
Who were some of the fighters or athletes that inspired you to get into martial arts and MMA?
To be honest, I don’t have. But I am more often the object of admiration.
Looking into the future five years or ten years from now, how do you envision yourself?
I believe I will become the champion, like Angela Lee.