The controversial battle between Gabi Garcia and 52-year-old politician and pro wrestler Shinobu Kandori on the Rizin New Year's Eve show at the Saitama Super Arena was announced as now off at a Thursday press conference due to Kandori suffering a rib injury in training.
But that doesn't change the dynamic one iota. The replacement announced was Yumiko Hotta, a pro wrestling star from the same era as Kandori, who is two weeks shy of her 50th birthday.
Kandori was at least considered the toughest of all the Japanese women pro wrestlers of their era, the late 80s and the 90s. She won a bronze medal in judo at the 1984 world championships and had a 4-1 record during the primitive days of women's MMA in Japan.
Hotta as a pro wrestler was considered as also one of the tougher women during the early 90s boom period of the sport, known for her hard body kicks. As an MMA fighter, she had a 5-4 record with all of her fights but one coming between 1995 and 2000. In 2000, she suffered a submission loss to Kandori,
Her lone fight since that time was a gimmick match on February 18, 2012, losing to Amanda Lucas, the daughter of Star Wars king George Lucas, via third round submission.
Only two of Hotta's wins were against non-pro wrestlers and all four losses were via submission against fighters with nowhere near the Jiu Jitsu credentials of Garcia, who has won 11 world championships in that sport. At 5-foot- 5 and 160 pounds, Hotta will give away tremendous size to Garcia, who is 6-foot-1, and has fought recently at between 215 and 245 pounds. However, Garcia will not be the largest woman Hotta has faced in MMA, as in 1995, she lost to a 6-foot-3, 327 pound Russian judoka, Svetlana Gunderarenko.
Hotta's background was in karate, and started pro wrestling in 1985 at a time when women's pro wrestling was a huge television hit on network television in a weekend afternoon time slot. She has remained active even with Japanese women's pro wrestling's decline in popularity over the past 20 years, toiling on small shows around the country.
Hotta was a star with a higher-profile wrestling company than Kandori, but Kandori's name was much stronger with the public because she had become a a member of Japan's House of Councilors.