‘I Was Training In Such An Amazing Environment’ – Itsuki Hirata Reflects On Time In America After Move Back To Japan

Ham Seo Hee Itsuki Hirata ONE Fight Night 8 25

Itsuki “Android 18” Hirata has returned to her home country of Japan and is aiming to snap her uncharacteristic two-fight losing skid.

The 24-year-old will next face Victoria “Vick” Souza in a pivotal atomweight MMA clash on June 7 at ONE 167: Tawanchai vs. Nattawut II on Prime Video, live in U.S. primetime from the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.

Hirata won five of her first six MMA bouts in ONE Championship but has since dropped back-to-back decisions against former World Title challengers, prompting her to relocate her training camp from the United States back to Japan.

Now honing her skills under the watchful eye of coach Kenji Osawa at Wajutsu Keishukai HEARTS, she looks back at her time in America fondly and is leaving the door open for a potential return in the future.

“Android 18” told onefc.com:

“The environment in America was good and fulfilling. But I realized there were still things I could do in Japan. I think that once I get to the point in Japan where I feel something is missing, I could just go back to America.”

When she was in the United States, “Android 18” trained at the famed Serra-Longo Fight Team in Long Island, New York.

Hirata recalls her time in America as a special, once-in-a-lifetime experience – even admitting that she might have taken some moments for granted:

“America has its own unique training methods and quality. Sometimes, when I see old photos or videos from New York, I think, ‘Wow.’

“I was just casually walking around Times Square, but that’s such a crazy place, right? Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Times Square is crazy. When I see those ‘On This Day’ memories on Instagram, I realize I was training in such an amazing environment back then without even realizing it.”

The atomweight standout also admits that spending so much time away from Japan was difficult, but that the connections she made in the U.S. made it easier.

She now hopes to continue evolving as a mixed martial artist and someday return to her old training partners as a new and improved fighter:

“It was tough, but in the end, enjoyment wins out. My teammates and coaches in America contact me before and after fights. I want to show them my growth, so I want to go back once I’ve grown more.”

Hirata Wants To Earn Another Fight In Japan

Now that she’s back training in Japan, Itsuki Hirata is even more excited about the prospect of competing more often in her home country.

While her last fight took place in Tokyo at the blockbuster ONE 165: Superlek vs. Takeru, “Android 18” came up short that night.

Critical of her recent outings, Hirata says that while she loves performing in front of her compatriots, she needs to put on a better showing to earn another opportunity:

“It’s fortunate that my family and supporters can come watch me fight in Japan. But if I’m going to fight in Japan, I have to be a fighter worthy of that. I have to put on fights that people want to see.

“I don’t think I can just fight on Japanese shows because I’m Japanese – that would be way too easy, right? Not just because I’m Japanese, but I need to become a fighter who gets results that people want to see. Once I clear that bar, I want to fight in Japan about twice a year.”

Taking that a step further, Hirata believes that she must do more than just win – she needs to electrify the audience.

A victory over Victoria Souza at ONE 167, she adds, is critical for her to earn the right to once again compete at home:

“I have to be a fighter that people want to watch fight, otherwise just being Japanese isn’t enough. If I lose my next fight but get to fight on a Japanese show, I wouldn’t be satisfied with myself. I’d think there are other fighters the fans would rather see instead.

“If I can’t win the next one, I’d rather not fight on the Japanese show out of my own resolution. I can’t be picky.”

More in News

Jonathan Di Bella Danial Williams ONE Fight Night 15 73
Nakrob Fairtex Tagir Khalilov ONE Friday Fights 67 40
Danielle Kelly Jessa Khan ONE Fight Night 14 2
Tagir Khalilov Yodlekpet Or Atchariya ONE Friday Fights 41 22
Nakrob Fairtex Muangthai PK Saenchai ONE Friday Fights 15
Tye Ruotolo Izaak Michell ONE Fight Night 21 64
Tagir Khalilov Yodlekpet Or Atchariya ONE Friday Fights 41 26
Reinier de Ridder Anatoly Malykhin ONE 166 9
Johan Ghazali Nguyen Tran Duy Nhat ONE 167 65
Nakrob Fairtex Muangthai PK Saenchai ONE Friday Fights 10
Mikey Musumeci Gabriel Sousa ONE 167 14
Kade Ruotolo Blake Cooper ONE 167 69