‘More Challenges And Ambitions’ – Ayaka Miura Motivated For Atomweight Debut Against Itsuki Hirata
A move down to atomweight was unexpected for Ayaka “Zombie” Miura, but the Japanese grappling sensation is now eager to make a strong first impression in a second weight class.
Miura is dropping from strawweight to face her compatriot Itsuki “Android 18” Hirata at ONE 165: Superlek vs. Takeru on Sunday, January 28, and she can’t wait to test her skills in the new division at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan.
While she was initially unsure about the change, “Zombie” has taken confidence from her coaching team at Tribe Tokyo MMA as she tests the water at 115 pounds.
The former ONE Women’s Strawweight MMA World Title challenger spoke to onefc.com ahead of the all-Japanese battle on home soil:
“I was very surprised when I got the offer to fight at atomweight, but I talked to my mentor, Mr. [Ryo] Chonan, and also my trainer, Mr. [Toshiyuki] Horie, about whether or not I could fight in this division, and they said I could.
“This makes me feel very confident. I believe in my ability and [the input from] my mentors and friends. And I think I can win. That is why I accepted the offer.
“It depends on my condition whether I plan to continue fighting at atomweight, but right now, I am in great condition.”
A lot rides on Miura’s first outing in the lighter weight class, but if it goes well, she feels excited about the the fresh opponents she could face.
The chance to go for gold at atomweight is also a factor, although she admits that a potential rematch with reigning strawweight MMA queen “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan gets her the most fired up.
The 33-year-old explained:
“I may pursue becoming a two-division World Champion but, to be honest, my main goal is still to defeat Xiong Jing Nan, like it always has been. So I will always make that my priority.
“But I got the offer to compete at atomweight and I found a new possibility to compete in two divisions. Now I know there are more challenges and ambitions for me, so I really appreciate the chance.
“My goal is to be a World Champion, and it hasn’t come true yet. Until I reach this goal, I will keep doing it. I cannot stop this until I make my dream come true.”
Ayaka Miura Questions Itsuki Hirata’s Focus On Fighting
Ayaka Miura respects the skills of Itsuki Hirata, but she doesn’t know whether her upcoming rival is cut from the same cloth.
The 24-year-old Hirata works as a model alongside her martial arts career – something that’s helped her explode in popularity – and Miura thinks this could sidetrack her focus on fighting.
For her part, “Zombie” isn’t the same type of fashionista, and she feels her own unwavering dedication to training could give her an advantage in the ring:
“I think [Hirata] got into the world of martial arts because she has potential and she draws attention. So I guess she is very talented, but I don’t know how seriously she’s taking it as a fighter or how much she loves doing it.
“I feel I am better than her in this respect. I’ve been doing it for a long time under the hard circumstances at Tribe Tokyo MMA. I’ve managed to make it this far from zero, where there was no spotlight on me at all.
“I guess I have more guts. That’s how I feel. I always stand up to keep fighting, no matter how many times I am knocked down. I am called ‘Zombie,’ so in that respect, I think I am better than anyone else, not just Hirata.”
With her skills and durability constantly being put to the test under the guidance of coach Ryo Chonan at her gym in Tokyo, Miura will enter ONE 165 will full faith in her ability to win.
Of course, her trademark “Ayaka Lock” – the scarf-hold Americana submission that she’s used to finish all five of her victories in ONE – is always a major threat, but “Zombie” is ready for anything.
“I’m asked a lot about the ‘Ayaka Lock.’ This submission is always useful, but what I say every time is that I have more techniques other than that. It’s not like the ‘Ayaka Lock’ itself is my confidence.
“I am getting through the hard practices at Tribe Tokyo MMA, and I do it more than anyone. That’s where my confidence comes from.”