Ayaka Miura and Ituski Hirata come from the same country and have competed in different weight classes. So there never seemed much prospect of them facing each other but that is exactly what is scheduled to happen at ONE 165 on Sunday.

Hirata is clearly the more famous of the two while Miura has been around for longer and previously challenged for the strawweight title. She will be making her atomweight debut in this fight.

Surprisingly, given Hirata’s well publicized issues making weight, it is Miura who is dropping down a division in order to make this fight happen. She questions her opponent’s work ethic and accuses her of getting into the sport for the wrong reasons,

“It seems like she got into MMA because she has the looks. She’s just doing it for attention. I don’t know how seriously she’s taking it as a fighter or how much she loves doing it.”

Work ethic

By contrast Miura thinks you cannot question her work ethic. She had to fight nine times in Japan before earning the opportunity to compete for ONE Championship and feels that, unlike Hirata, she came up the hard way,

“I feel I am better than her in this respect. I’ve been doing it for a long time under the hard circumstances at Tribe Tokyo MMA. I’ve managed to make it this far from zero, where there was no spotlight on me at all.”

Hirata made her pro debut on a ONE Championship card after winning a handful of amateur fights on a reality show. Miura feels it is here mental fortitude that sets her apart from her opponent,

“I guess I have more guts. That’s how I feel. I always stand up to keep fighting, no matter how many times I am knocked down (that’s why) I am called ‘Zombie’.”

Surprise call

Last year she competed at 119lbs, which is just above ONE Championship’s atomweight limit of 115lbs. The call to compete in this division still came as a surprise,

“I was very surprised when I got the offer to fight at atomweight, but I talked to my trainers about whether or not I could fight in this division, and they said I could.”

She has already come up short in a strawweight title shot. Miura might have more chance of earning a shot at the atomweight belt but says it is the former which she is currently focused on,

“I may pursue becoming a two-division world champion but, to be honest, my main goal is still to defeat Xiong Jing Nan, like it always has been. So I will always make that my priority.”

All eyes will be on Saturday’s weigh ins because Hirata has a history missing weight while Miura will be attempting to make 115lbs for the first time. She is uncertain which divisi0n her future lies in but feels very confident heading into ONE 165,

“It depends on my condition whether I plan to continue fighting at atomweight, but right now, I am in great condition.”