Itsuki Hirata will aim to resume her rapid ascent toward the top of the women’s atomweight division when she steps back into the Circle this Saturday, 26 March.
“Android 18″ lost a bit of momentum when she withdrew from the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix semifinals due to injury last October, but she can get rolling again when she faces Jihin Radzuan in a pivotal showdown at ONE X.
The Japanese dynamo is hoping to make a big impression in her return at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, and there are plenty of reasons to believe she’s the next big thing in the atomweight MMA ranks. Here, we look at five of them.
#1 She’s Undefeated
Hirata boasts a perfect 5-0 slate in her professional mixed martial arts career, with four of those victories coming in The Home of Martial Arts.
She also recorded a clean slate of three wins on the Japanese show “Fighting Agent War,” although they were classed as exhibitions for the reality TV series.
The Krazy Bee representative has steadily increased her level of opposition along the way – overcoming tough rivals like Alyse Anderson and Nyrene Crowley – and that will continue when she meets Jihin, who is coming off back-to-back triumphs over Mei Yamaguchi and Bi Nguyen.
#2 She’s A Finisher
Hirata has stopped four of her five opponents inside the distance. She’s most potent on the ground, though the finishes have come through a variety of methods.
In her four pro victories, the 22-year-old has won two by submission and two by TKO through ground-and-pound, adding to the three straight submissions she earned in the “Fighting Agent War” series.
She’s constantly searching for a stoppage when the action hits the canvas and offers her rivals no respite as she strikes, passes, and constantly hunts for chokes and joint locks.
#3 She Has A Lot Of Heart
After a dominant run through her earlier opponents, Hirata showed that she can grit her teeth through tough spots when necessary.
Anderson dropped “Android 18” with a punch in the third round of their Grand Prix quarterfinal clash, but the Japanese phenom bounced back to take home the clear unanimous decision victory at ONE: EMPOWER.
Formerly known by the moniker “Strong Heart Fighter,” she also battled through multiple surgeries and setbacks during her judo career to move into MMA and reach the global stage.
#4 She Trains With Best
In an effort to keep progressing and evolving, Hirata now hones her craft at Krazy Bee, one of Japan’s most revered MMA teams.
Formed by the legendary Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto, the Tokyo gym is home to a strong roster of athletes who compete both nationally and internationally.
“Android 18” has also trained with legendary compatriot Shinya Aoki, taking tips from the former ONE World Champion that will help her moving forward.
#5 She Has A Massive Fan Base
Hirata is a social media sensation, and this popularity is another factor that will help her rise to the top.
Whether it’s fashion, dancing, training, or her dog, “Android 18” is a hit with fans for showing the different sides to herself.
That support will help motivate Hirata and push her to continue climbing the ranks.