Prospect in the Spotlight (Feb 28-29): Ayaka Miura

Introduction

Friday, February 28th, Japanese flyweight prospect Ayaka Miura will be in action for One Championship, where she will be fighting opposite fellow prospect Tiffany Teo. She will be looking to continue her winning streak, as Miura looks to get closer to a possible ONE title shot. She represents Tribe Tokyo MMA, an unknown camp in MMA. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”

Strengths

Grappling/Submissions: Miura’s background is in judo, which shouldn’t be too shocking if you’ve ever watched any of her fights. When the fight is on the feet, she loves closing the distance and pushing her opponent against the fence (or ropes). She is very strong in the clinch, where she will throw, trip or ragdoll you to the ground. Overall, her takedowns are a strong point in her game. Once the fight is down, she is very heavy from top position. She is very good at setting up submissions as she advances. She is especially known for her armlock finishes, specifically the keylock and scarfhold armlock (both rarities in MMA). Six of her 10 fights have been finishes, all of which are by submission. She gets stronger as her opponents wears out from her pressure, with second round stoppages being on Miura’s resume. She’s dangerous from the opening bell until later in the fight.

Strength of Schedule: Miura has consistently fought experienced, legitimate fighters since becoming a pro fighter. That has made her experience more valuable, as she’s already tested herself frequently with bigger MMA promotions. Despite her strength of schedule being tough, she’s only lost twice to UFC fighter Viviane Araujo and top Japanese fighter Emi Fujino. The scalps she’s collected on her record are top European prospect Magdalena Sormova, Argentine vet Laura Balin, experienced Brazilian Samara Santos and Brazilian prospect Maira Mazar. Those wins have made her record even more impressive.

Needs Improvement

Size: At just 5’2″, Miura is definitely a smaller flyweight. That size can catch up with her if she steps into the cage with a  top-level grappler that she shoots on. Miura is more suited to be a 115-pound fighter, where she’s actually previously fought before her last few fights with One Championship. That would match her up size-wise more advantageously and take away the possibility of being outmuscled by a sizeably bigger opponent.

Striking: Miura is not a horrid striker, but she’s also not going to be confused with Rocky Marciano anytime soon. Many times when she steps in the cage, she is the lesser of two strikers. When she is unable to get the fight to the ground, where she is comfortable, she can get lost on the feet. Her footwork and movement could use some work in that regard. She doesn’t mix up her strikes as much, and mostly uses her striking as a way to set up the clinch or takedown. She’s also not a knockout threat. If she were a better striker or KO threat, it would make setting up those takedowns even easier. In her most recent loss (2017), she was unable to ground Viviane Araujo, who in turned carved her up on the feet en route to a stoppage loss. Miura herself owns no striking stoppages to date.

Outlook

ONE Title Challenger/UFC Midcarder: There aren’t too many women that Miura will step into the cage with that will be as impressive a grappler as she. That’s huge, especially in women’s MMA. ONE has a very underrated talent roster in the women’s division, so it will not be a cakewalk for Miura to get to a title shot. However, she is facing another top flyweight with the company in Tiffany Teo in what I would assume is a top contender’s fight. That is a fight that will be good, but I have Miura winning. If she does, I would have to assume she’s next in line for a title shot, which will be the toughest fight she faces yet. In terms of overall career outlook, I think she will eventually be somebody who wants to try her hand in the UFC and get there. She will be a career midcarder for the company, as her striking limitations will hold her back, especially against wrestlers and strikers with good takedown defense.

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