Itsuki Hirata is getting back to basics as she continues her training in Japan. The 23 year old has spent a lot of time in New York but is now back in her homeland as she awaits her next ONE Championship matchup.

Hirata might be one of the top atomweights in the world but she is not afraid to get back to basics. The judoka has been training BJJ at the renowned Triforce Academy in Tokyo and celebrated earning a third stripe on her white belt recently:

Submission wins

Across her career as an amateur and a pro Hirata has six submission wins in MMA bouts. She also holds a black belt in judo so is probably a little bit more advanced than your average BJJ white belt.

But it seems she is happy to go back to being a beginner again after being subjected to the sort of scrutiny that only comes with competing at the highest level. Hirata relocated to the US following her split decision loss to Jihin Radzuan.

Radzuan won the fight so convincingly that Hirata herself questioned how one judge could possibly have scored the bout in her favour. She was praised for her honesty but would come in for a lot of negativity after two botched weight cuts.

Missing weight

She missed weight ahead of her ONE Fight Night 1 bout with Heqin Lin. Hirata won but afterwards the Chinese fighter accused her of making no effort to come in at the atomweight limit.

In this contest Seo Hee Ham decided that enough was enough when Hirata missed weight again ahead of ONE 163. She refused to fight her and the Japanese fighter came in for a storm of online criticism.

Four months later that fight finally went ahead at ONE Fight Night 6. An atomweight title shot was on the line and this time Hirata did make weight but she caused Seo Hee Ham virtually no problems in the three round fight.

Falling short

Hirata proved she can still make the atomweight limit despite having failed to so ahead of three separate ONE Championship fights, one of which was subsequently postponed. But the bout with Seo Hee Ham was not really competitive and demonstrated that the Japanese fighter was short of the level of the top fighters at the weight.

But she is also significantly younger than Ham so time is on her side. Hirata seems to be taking her training very seriously, she shared footage of herself pumping iron in the gym, even if she has found time to visit some of Japan’s beaches.

It will be interesting to see who Hirata is matched with next. She is unlikely to get a top five opponent but there are lots of up and coming atomweights like Noelle Grandjean and Yo Sul Kim, who face off at Lumpinee Stadium this evening.

Hirata has had so many of ups and downs that it is easy to forget she is still only 23. The Japanese fighter is still learning and isn’t afraid to go back to basics as she looks to relaunch her MMA career.