Ayaka Miura Reveals Plan To Neutralize Maira Mazar

Ayaka Miura wears the winner's medal after defeating Samara Santos

Following her emergence as one of the breakout stars of last year, Ayaka Miura is taking aim at World Title gold in 2020.

The Japanese star’s journey toward the top of ONE Championship’s women’s strawweight division will continue next Friday, 10 January when she faces the biggest test of her career at ONE: A NEW TOMORROW.

If she can get past Evolve’s Maira Mazar in Bangkok, Thailand, the 29-year-old from Tokyo will stay on track for a shot at “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan and the chance to become the first Japanese women’s World Champion on the global stage.

If Miura can maintain the form that took her to a pair of outstanding victories to kick off her ONE career in 2019, the queen of the weight class will be in her sights.

However, she will not be content with just another win – the third-degree judo black belt wants to show that she has made great strides in her striking game to become a well-rounded mixed martial artist.

“This [bout] is a very important fight for me,” she says.

“I want everyone to see how I’ve evolved. I’m not just a grappler!”

The Tribe Tokyo MMA representative has already shown her outstanding athleticism and ground game in the face of several new challenges.

Though she was thrust out of her comfort zone by traveling abroad for the first time to make her promotional bow last February, she adjusted to the pressure of the grandest stage when she entered the ring to compete.

Her stunning throws and finishing instincts took her to quick finishes of two former ONE Women’s Strawweight World Title Challengers – Laura “La Gladiadora” Balin and Samara “Marituba” Santos – with identical scarf-hold armlocks.

A repeat result against Brazil’s Mazar would stand head and shoulders above everything Miura has done before in The Home Of Martial Arts, but she knows she will have to reach a new level to achieve that.

The stick-and-move striking style and knockout power have helped the Pan American sanda champion to claim four of her six mixed martial arts wins by KO, and the Japanese athlete recognizes she will be at a disadvantage in the stand-up exchanges.

That is why she has worked hard to ensure she can stay away from danger.

“This time I’ve especially been working with [head coach, Ryo] Chonan and my conditioning coach, Mr. Horie, on improving my movement. I’ve been doing drills in anticipation of her attacks,” she shares.

“My strength is good thanks to heavy weightlifting, but my movement is bad, so I’ve been working on angles and reflexes to improve my quickness.”

Ayaka Miura goes for an americana

With those gains, combined with plenty of research on her upcoming opponent, Miura is confident she has a winning formula to take to the Impact Arena.

“I imagine she’ll come straight in with long jabs and crosses more than kicks. I have to be ready to slip [the punches] so I don’t get hit,” she adds.

“Certainly, [Mazar] is a strong fighter, so I want to show the fans how I deal with her striking, and how I can pull her into my game.”

If Miura can get the Sao Paulo native to the canvas, then the odds will be stacked in her favor to get her hand raised for the third time on the global stage. However, she is still prepared for a battle down in her world.

Though both of Mazar’s professional defeats have come via tapout, she trains alongside a host of elite BJJ practitioners in Singapore. Her Japanese rival has little doubt she will be well-drilled, so she will take nothing for granted when she goes into battle.

“Perhaps her [weakness is her] ground game, but she’s been training at Evolve, so it’s possible that she’s now well-rounded,” Miura says.

Read more: Puja Tomar Is Ready For The Biggest Match Of Her Life

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