ByAmy Kaplan, writer at
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Amy Kaplan

Rizin announced that Gabi Garcia would be facing Shinobu Kandori for on night two of their New Years Eve card, and Garcia isn't exactly pleased about the matchup.

Kandori is a 51-year-old veteran of the sport who hasn't fought in nearly 16 years. Garcia is an up and coming undefeated superstar, who many refuse to fight.


It's easy to see why anyone would question this match-up.

"I was in a room and she was in a separate room," Garcia told MMA Fighting. "They announced me, I entered the press conference and then they announced her. When I saw her, I was like ‘oh my…’"

Garcia has been competing (and winning) in jiu-jitsu tournaments for years and has gone undefeated since her pro MMA debut in RIZIN almost one year ago. She's easily one of the strongest women in her division.

Garcia said that despite finding out only moments before walking out for faceoffs, she doesn't pick her opponents.

"I found out about the fight moments before the press conference," she said. "My boss called me and explained the reason why he wanted to do this fight, and I talked to my manager about it. I mean, I said yes because I understand my boss’ side, I believe in what he’s doing because he’s a great promoter, and I’m an employee. I will enter the ring to fight whoever they put in front of me."

She said that it was RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara who finally convinced her to take the fight.

"When I told him I didn’t want this fight, that it’s not the type of fight I wanted for me right now, he explained her history in the sport, that she challenged me," Garcia said. "She was the only Japanese that wanted to fight me. She fought men in the past, she has a history in judo, and she wanted to fight me."

She was shocked the Japanese fans warmed up to the matchup, despite the American fans shock.

Despite her initial reservations, she is glad to be fighting.

"I didn’t really want to fight at the end of the year, but (Sakakibara) wanted, so I’m happy because it’s a huge event. It’s already sold out," she said.


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