Ayaka Miura steadily rising through the ranks in ONE Championship

Count Japan’s Ayaka Miura as another member of the ONE Championship roster who had a memorable 2019. The strawweight contender made a huge impact with back to back wins to solidify her debut year with ONE as a serious contender. With an eye toward 2020, Miura looks forward to earning the belt this year.

The first step in her journey to conquer another calendar year begins on 10 January at ONE: A New Tomorrow when she faces Maira Mazar.

Going into this match Miura intends to implement her enhanced striking skills in hopes of adding another victory to her record.

“This [bout] is a very important fight for me,” Miura shares. “I want everyone to see how I’ve evolved. I’m not just a grappler!”

Grappling is still Miura’s base skill. However, like most grapplers, Miura knows she must be well-rounded if she hopes to be most effective in mixed martial arts. Miura has displayed great in-ring intuition against her two previous opponents, Laura Balin and Samara Santos. This intuition led to two quick victories over the former ONE strawweight title challengers.

Going into the bout with striker Mazar, who is also known for her knockout power, Miura knows that she has to bring more than her grappling skills to the table.

“This time I’ve especially been working with [head coach, Ryo] Chonan and my conditioning coach, Mr. Horie, on improving my movement,” Miura said. “I’ve been doing drills in anticipation of her attacks. My strength is good thanks to heavy weightlifting, but my movement is bad, so I’ve been working on angles and reflexes to improve my quickness.”

Miura has studied Xiong Jing Nan and with the help of her coaches has prepared what she believes is the proper gameplan to take down her opponent.

While not quite ready to challenge champion Xiong Jing Nan, it appears Miura studies the Chinese champion as she hopes to one day be in the cage with her competing for the world championship.

“I imagine she’ll come straight in with long jabs and crosses more than kicks,” Miura said. “I have to be ready to slip [the punches] so I don’t get hit. Certainly, [Mazar] is a strong fighter, so I want to show the fans how I deal with her striking, and how I can pull her into my game.”

Getting Mazar to the canvas would certainly give Ayaka Miura a better chance to overtake her, but Miura will be prepared to face her opponent either way. When she climbs into the ONE Circle, it will be time for preparation to give way to execution.

The ONE: A New Tomorrow card is stacked with can’t-miss bouts. In the main event, Rodtang Jitmuangnon will defend his ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Title against Jonathan Haggerty in a highly anticipated rematch. In the co-main event, Stamp Fairtex will continue her journey toward winning a world title in a third martial art. She faces Puja Tomar. If the bouts live up to their potential, the card could help kick ONE Championship’s year off on the right foot.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 1/9/2020.