Itsuki Hirata will be looking to bounce back from the first loss of her career when she faces Lin Heqin at ONE 161 next month. The Japanese trainer has clearly been training hard and posts updates on Instagram every single day.

Hirata won her first nine fights as an amateur and a professional so it is an unfamiliar situation for the 22 year old. She was one of the top contenders in the division until her surprise split decision loss to Jihin Radzuan at ONE: ‘X’.

She has spent time training in the US but appears to be back at Krazy Bee ahead of her fight. The atomweight star certainly seems to be working hard:

National rivals

The bout pits Japan against China in a rivalry that remains relatively untapped in the MMA world. Heqin suffered a surprise loss last year when she was beaten by Ritu Phogat at ONE: ‘Battleground’.

It was Heqin’s first defeat since 2016 and snapped an 11 fight winning streak for the Chinese fighter. She did bounce back to defeat Bi Nguyen at ONE: ‘Bad Blood’ and a spot in the top five could be on the line.

The fight will be on the first ever ONE Championship card to be broadcast live on Amazon Prime. It is an opportunity for Hirata to introduce herself to an American audience.

Training trip

During her recent trip to the US she trained at 10th Planet in San Diego and Team Serra in New York. It seems Hirata has been sharpening up her ground game after being outgrappled by Radzuan in her most recent fight.

She is known for her ground game and nearly all her wins have come by way of either submission or ground and pound. But Radzuan turned out to be the slicker grappler and claimed a comfortable looking decision win.

No-one was more surprised when the decision was announced than Hirata who could not believe one of the judges had scored the contest for her. She even took to Twitter to declare that Radzuan had clearly won and the decision should have been unanimous.

This honest approach won Hirata a lot of fans and at the age of 22 her best days are clearly ahead of her. She will be looking to relaunch her career at ONE 161 and has clearly been working hard in training.