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Saturday, October 1, 2022

Itsuki Hirata Gets Back in Win Column with Two Near-Finishes of Lin Heqin

Itsuki Hirata VS Angelie Sabanal Credit: ONE Championship

Needless to say, the past 12 months haven’t been a good time for Japanese atomweight May Hirata.

Last fall, the then-undefeated fighter was forced to withdraw from the Atomweight Grand Prix due to illness and lost his chance to fight Angela Lee for the title. When she returned to the game last March, Hirata suffered her first defeat as a professional, throwing a split decision to Jihin Radzuan.

On Friday night on Prime Video 1’s ONE in Singapore, Hirata wants to put all that behind him against China’s Lin Heqin. But it was Heqin who took it first, with a sharp kick, followed by another. After two kicks, Hutchin landed on her right hand; the connection seemed to wake her up, giving the Japanese fighter a little more movement.

About two minutes into the opening, Hirata tied the score – but unable to stay put, Heqin immediately scrambled up. Standing up again, Hechin made a jab, and was finally responded by Hirata’s overhand. Another knockdown attempt was initially repelled by Hetchen late in the bout, but after landing multiple knees on his thighs, Hirata finished the bout with Hetchin on the mat.

The second round saw Kazuko return to her leg kick, but Hirata changed her approach and used more lateral moves. However, the Japanese fighter still struggled to find her entry and push the fight to the ground. The legs of the leader of Hirata showed some color, and Heqin’s legs and kicks obviously added up. Hirata would lock the submission at the end of the round, with time running out and Jyn escaping – but heading into the third inning, there’s a good chance that Hirata would need to finish to win the game.

For the third time, Hirata’s injuries to her legs continued to hinder her. Heqin was initially able to keep things standing as the two came together along the fence. But Hirata eventually threw a shot and had a chance to make something happen — just to get Kazuo scrambling to his feet. Then, some late drama. Hirata shook Heqin with a punch, and China’s atomic weight fell to the ground! Hirata swooped up and hit a lot of ground, but referee Heber Dean let go, and for the second round in a row, Lin Heqin was saved by Zhong Sheng.

After winning, Hirata called for a rematch with the only woman to beat her, Razuan.

Official result: Hirata Goki def.Lin Heqin unanimously decided

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