Itsuki Hirata returned to winning ways at ONE on Amazon Prime 1 on Saturday. The Japanese star beat Lin Heqin via unanimous decision to extend her record to 6-1.
She missed weight by more than 5lbs and was losing the fight as the final round reached its conclusion. But Hirata came to life at the end of the bout and almost finished the Chinese fighter by dropping her with a right hand.
It was enough to earn Hirata the decision win and she thinks it would have been a stoppage if the fight had lasted a little longer,
“I think if I had ten more seconds I could have finished my opponent. 90% of my preparation for this fight was striking so I want to do more MMA training and grappling training after this,” she said.
Itsuki Hirata came in CLUTCH!@_itsuki_h_ #ONEonPrimeVideo1 #ONEChampionship pic.twitter.com/R7lJNULO07
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) August 30, 2022
This was partly a response to question’s about Heqin’s takedown defence. Hirata struggled to get the Chinese fighter down and admits she probably put too much focus on her striking in preparation for this contest,
“I don’t want to think that Lin Heqin has good takedown defence. I just want to think that I didn’t prepare enough for the takedown skills. I wanted to attack more, but I tried to mix my judo skill as well so that’s what I did today.”
Coming into this fight she was looking to rebound after the first pro loss of her career against Jihin Radzuan at ONE: ‘X’. She wants a rematch with the Malaysian,
“If I get a rematch against Jihin Radzuan my level will be way over hers so I’m confident.”
Radzuan is booked to take on Stamp Fairtex at ONE on Prime Video 2 and is one of three atomweights on Hirata’s hit list,
“I want to fight against Ritu Phogat because I couldn’t fight her at the atomweight Grand Prix and I also want to fight against Stamp as well. This atomweight division has a lot of fighters on the roster so I have many opportunities to fight. I’m so excited.”
Itsuki Hirata did NOT hold back 👊@_itsuki_h_ #ONEonPrimeVideo1 #ONEChampionship pic.twitter.com/CGjP7K6ead
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) August 28, 2022
All three of the potential opponents she mentions have fights coming up but Hirata is only 23 so time is on her side. It doesn’t sound like the backlash she has received online for being unable to make weight has dampened her post fight celebrations,
“After winning the fight. I can imagine everything. Even I can imagine I will be the world champion as well. But I don’t want to forget about the feeling of losing from the last one so I will keep that mindset as well,” she said.
Hirata is not short of ambition. She dropped out of the top five after the loss to Radzuan but is hoping to reclaim a spot in the rankings and eventually secure a shot at the champion,
“Being a top five fighter is an amazing thing. Being a champion is more amazing. So one day I want to beat Angela Lee and be a world champion in this organization.”