Gabi Garcia has fought a grand total of three times since turning pro in late 2015, but her next opponent may be the most controversial of them all, as she will be fighting 52-year-old Shinobu Kandori at Rizin 4 this December.
"I found out about the fight moments before the press conference," Garcia told MMA Fighting. "I was ready for the press conference when 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. I was in a room and she was in a separate room. They announced me, I entered the press conference and then they announced her. When I saw her, I was like ‘oh my…’ At the press conference, someone asked her if she was going to train hard, and she said she wouldn’t because she can rely on the Japanese technology. I didn’t understand anything [laughs]. Japan is really different. But I don’t pick opponents."
Garcia did complain to Rizin President Nobuyuki Sakakibara about the match up, but he convinced her to take the fight anyway.
"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. (Sakakibara) went to her gym to watch her train, too. In his head, this fight is like Bob Sapp against ‘Minotauro’ (Nogueira). It’s the concept of the Japanese show. It’s good for the market. I was shocked at how excited Japanese fans are for this fight. (Sakakibara) said ‘Gabi, this fight will be good for your name in Japan, good for us, and good for her.’ And now I have the obligation to win [laughs]. The last time I underestimated an opponent I lost, so I will never do that. I respect her history. I had losses to smaller girls in jiu-jitsu in the past, so I respect everyone."
Garcia says she has faced a lot of criticism online since the fight announcement, mainly due to her height and weight advantages, something she has been dealing with since her days in jiu-jitsu.
Following her victory over Destanie Yarbrough at Rizin 3, Garcia hadn’t planned on competing anymore in 2016, but plans have obviously changed.
Rizin 4 takes place on Saturday, December 31 from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan with Wanderlei Silva and Mirko Cro Cop headlining. Fightful's Showdown Joe will be calling the show.