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 Tokyo press conference due to Kandori suffering a serious rib injury in training.
But if anything, that only created a bigger mismatch. The replacement announced was Yumiko Hotta, another star of the boom period of women’s pro wrestling.
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, who turns 50 on January 10th, has a 5-4 MMA record with all of her fights but one coming between 1995 and 2000. In 2000, she suffered a submission loss to Kandori. She was a three-time WWWA world champion in the old All Japan women’s promotion.
Her lone fight since that time was a gimmick match on February 18th, 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. 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. In her second year in the promotion, she was made the tag team partner of Chigusa Nagayo, the most popular woman wrestler of all-time, and they won the 1986 year-end Grand Prix tournament.
Hotta has remained active in pro wrestling for the past 31 years.