Ones to Watch in ONE: Itsuki Hirata

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Itsuki Hirata
Itsuki Hirata

ONE Championship is blessed with an abundance of talent within their roster. Their roster includes names everyone knows such as Brandon Vera (16-8), Angela Lee (10-2), Demetrious Johnson (30-3-1), and Aung La Sang (26-10).

Although ONE Championship have a lot of recognizable names, they also have an abundance of emerging talent. The athletes in this emerging talent pool are who we will focus on. Starting with, none other than, Itsuki Hirata (2-0).

Hirata will make her return this Friday at Warrior’s Code, in Jakarta.

Before Hirata Signed for ONE Championship

Hirata 2
Itsuki Hirata with the Championship Belt

Hirata was signed to the ONE Championship roster with a lot of hype behind her. This hype was built on the back of her winning the Agent War Tournament with ease, during which she submitted all three of her opponents.

Hirata’s victims during the Agent War Tournament included Bo Hyeon Park (2-2), Mio Tsumara (2-1), and Mizuki Furuse (5-7).

Itsuki Hirata’s ONE Championship Debut

Itsuki Hirata
Hirata and Sabanal show mutual respect

Usually, when a new prospect debuts with a big promotion they are eased into things with a low-level opponent. However, this was not the case with Hirata, who was matched up against the Filipino Muay Thai National Silver Medalist Angelie Sabanal (1-2), at Legendary Quest.

The magnitude of the occasion along with the opponent standing opposite Hirata did not seem to phase her at all. Hirata not only appeared to be in a zen-like state during her walkout, but she also made short work of her opponent. She submitted Sabanal after just 2 minutes and 29 seconds of the first round with an Americana.

Hirata’s Sophomore ONE Championship Fight

Itsuki Hirata
Hirata’s improved striking against Ishige

Hirata returned to fight at ONE Century Part 1, against another formidable opponent, Rika Ishige (4-4). Ishige came into the fight on a one-fight losing streak, which was a mirror image of Hirata’s one-fight winning streak.

Hirata’s striking had clearly improved from her first appearance in ONE Championship against Sabanal. Hirata used her striking effectively to close the distance and then take the fight to the floor.

Once the fight was on the ground, Ishige defended to the best of her ability, but it was clear that it was only a matter of time before Hirata would manage to lock in a submission.

As the second round was coming to an end, Hirata, to no one’s surprise, managed to once again take an arm, this time securing an armbar.

To date, there has yet to be an opponent, either professional or amateur, who has managed to stop Hirata from sinking in a submission.

This submission streak is something that Hirata will hope is extended come the conclusion of her next fight.

Hirata’s Next Bout at Warrior’s Code

Itsuki Hirata
Nyrene Crowley

Hirata will be looking to both remain undefeated and continue her submission spree this Friday, when she returns at Warrior’s Code, in Jakarta, against Nyrene Crowley (3-2).

Crowley will be the first female MMA fighter from New Zealand to compete under the ONE Championship banner.

Crowley was given this huge opportunity on short notice after Bi Nguyen (5-5) pulled out of the fight.

Facing Hirata on short notice would be a daunting task for any fighter. Luckily for Crowley, she never let herself ease off in the gym after her last match.

Crowley will come into the fight on two back to back losses, both to Michele Ferreira (4-1), at ONE Warrior Series 4 and 9. The most recent of which came via armbar in the first round.

Crowley’s last result will only serve to further Hirata’s confidence in her ability to extend her submission streak beyond this bout at Warrior’s Code.

Possible Future Fights for Hirata

Itsuki Hirata
Bi Nguyen

If Hirata does manage to win her next bout, at Warrior’s Code, it would make sense for her to be matched up against Bi Nguyen again.

A win in the possible bout against Bi Nguyen could then set up a possible title shot eliminator against current two-sport champion, Stamp Fairtex (4-0).

The winner of Hirata and Stamp could then face off against the current champion Angela Lee.


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