Maybe she can cast a vote herself, but Itsuki Hirata wants to face Stamp Fairtex next. At least, that seems to be the match-up she’s expecting.
Hirata (5-0) battled it out with Alyse Anderson at ONE: Empower on Friday, earning a unanimous decision win over the American. That victory, which saw the Japanese atomweight dropped late in the fight, means the 22-year old moves forward in ONE Championship’s high-profile women’s atomweight grand prix.
The semifinal round is up next, with fellow Empower athletes Ritu Phogat, Seo Hee Ham, and Fairtex all advancing in the tournament.
“I’m pretty sure that the fans want to see me against Stamp,” Hirata said following the fight, speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press. “So let the fans choose Stamp and I, and let’s have a good fight.”
Fans will in fact be voting for the semifinal match-ups. It’s a setup that the Japanese fighter is content with.
“I’m totally good about the fan vote, because the first time I heard about the fan vote, it was at the rule meeting. I’m sure everyone was really excited and got motivated, because in the semifinals, the fans can see what they want to see,” Hirata recalled. “My job is to make my fans happy and excited. We’re here to showcase whatever the fans want to see, so yeah, fan voting is great.”
While Hirata got out to a solid start Friday in Singapore, the late adversity she faced certainly changed the complexion of the fight.
“I just saw the ceiling, I wasn’t dizzy or out on my feet or anything, so I was able to come back and put pressure on [Anderson] again,” Hirata said of being knocked down in the third. “Probably in the semifinals, the next opponent will most likely be a good striker, better than Alyse. So I need to make sure I won’t get those big punches again in my next fight.”
Watch the full ONE: Empower post-fight press appearance by Itsuki Hirata above.