Itsuki Hirata faces Lin Heqin at ONE on Prime Video 1 later this month. It sounds like the Japanese atomweight knows she could be in for a rough time when she takes on the Chinese striking specialist.

Hirata is expecting to take some heavy shots from Heqin and it sounds like she is ready for it,

“I’m training so hard that I can handle being hit by shots,” she told

Clash of styles

On paper it is a straightforward clash of styles. Heqin has a background in sanda and is coming off a win in a kickboxing fight at ONE: ‘Lights Out’ earlier this year.

By contrast eight of Hirata’s nine wins as an amateur and a professional have come by way of submission or ground and pound. But the Japanese fighter has been training in New York and believes she has made significant improvements to her striking game,

“I’m hyped 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,” she said.

Real weakness

Heqin is a veteran of 19 fights who has never been stopped. But Hirata sees a chink in her opponent’s armour,

“I think she is confident in her striking because she has competed in kickboxing bouts in ONE. However, if you look at her match with Ritu (Phogat) she was dominated on the ground and lost by points. I know her weakness is her ground skills.”

Having spent so much time training in the US she is confident but also feels pressure. Hirata wants to show the improvements she has made in recent months as well as ensuring she doesn’t make it back to back losses,

“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.”

Huge difference

That last loss came at the hands of Jihin Radzuan at ONE: ‘X’. It was a major upset and Hirata wants an opportunity to avenge the only defeat of her career to date,

“I want to get revenge because I believe that I’m superior to her and will prove it the next time I face her. I’m going to show the huge difference, not by decision, but by finishing her.”

She wants to finish her next fight too but Hirata knows it won’t be easy as her opponent has a four inch height advantage. She knows it will be crucial for her to get on the inside and her ability to do this could determine the outcome of the contest,

“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.”