RIZIN FF star Gabi Garcia is set to return, and her opponent will give you a little bit of deja vu.
On Wednesday, Japanese MMA promotion RIZIN announced that BJJ expert Gabi Garcia has once again been booked against Shinobu Kandori. This is not a repeat from last year. After a proposed 2016 bout fell through, RIZIN has apparently decided to give it another go.
Kandori, a 53-year old former pro wrestler and politician, was set to meet Garcia on the card which wound up witnessing Mirko Cro-Cop winning the promotion’s Openweight Grand Prix. However, while training for the fight, Kandori suffered a rib injury. She was eventually replaced by Yumiko Hotta. Hotta, a fellow pro wrestler, was 49 years old at the time. Now, Kandori gets another crack at Garcia, a dominant force in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu with only a handful of losses (including one to notable MMA prospect Mackenzie Dern).
Garcia has had a strange 2017 thus far, with both an MMA bout and shootboxing fight ending in No Contests. In July, at the RIZIN World Grand Prix 2017 Opening Round card, she faced Oksana Gagloeva, only to have the bout come to a premature end after an accidental eye poke on Gagloeva. That came just weeks after Garcia appeared at the Shoot Boxing Girl’s S-Cup 2017. There, her bout against Megumi Yabushita was halted after Garcia connected with illegal soccer kicks.
Garcia (4–0 (1)), who walks around north of 200lbs, will have the advantage in pretty much all areas over Kandori (4-1), who has not fought in MMA since 2000. The fight is being contested at a 95kb (209.439lb) catchweight. A former judoka, Kandori’s first three MMA bouts came on a single night in 1995, under the Ladies Legend Pro Wrestling Banner. That night, she made it to the finals of the promotion’s Ultimate L-1 Tournament (a legit MMA contest), winning her first two bouts by submission before losing in the finals to Svetlana Goundarenko, a European Judo champion who outweighed her by roughly 100lbs.
Three years later, Kandori would face Goundarenko again. At LLPW – Ultimate L-1 Challenge in 1998, she wound avenging her one and only professional loss. She would win her final MMA fight in 2000 against Yumiko Hotta. All four of her professional wins came via submission.
RIZIN FF’s World Grand Prix 2017 Second Round takes place December 29 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, just outside Tokyo.